Lotus Renault GP team bosses have admitted that they had no problem with star driver Robert Kubica indulging his passion for rallying, despite the serious accident that looks likely to sideline the Pole for the entire 2011 season.
Kubica had to be airlifted to hospital on Sunday morning after his Skoda Fabia RS collided with a church wall not far from the start of the Ronda di Andora Rally in Italy, and was diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm and leg. More seriously, however, doctors admitted that severe cuts to his right forearm threatened the mobility of his hand and, had it not been for a seven-hour spell in surgery, his motorsport career.
While initial reports from the hospital are positive, Kubica has been placed in an induced coma following the surgery, and looks almost certain to be watching the forthcoming F1 campaign from the sidelines as he recovers. Despite that, and his having set the fastest time of the season-opening group test in Valencia, team bosses insist that had no problem with the Pole going rallying.
"We let him do it because rallying is in his heart," team principal Eric Boullier told Italian news agency ANSA
, "Rally driving is vital for Robert and his state of mind - we know the risks and so does he. We don't want a robot or corporate driver."
Kubica escaped relatively unharmed from a high-speed crash in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, but was still forced to miss the following race at Indianapolis, allowing one Sebastian Vettel to make his race debut with BMW Sauber. Prior to making it to F1, the Pole also had to undergo major surgery after breaking his right arm in a road accident, leaving him with titanium bolts in the bone as a lasting legacy.
The Lotus Renault driver, who helped get the Enstone team back on its feet in 2010, is not the only one to enjoy risky activities away from the F1 circuit, with Mark Webber suffering two high-profile mountain bike injuries in recent seasons that left him with broken bones. Twenty years ago, Alessandro Nannini - one of Kubica's predecessors with the then Benetton team - lost his right arm following a helicopter crash, an accident that cost him a promising F1 career.