Even as Italian police attempt to determine the cause of Robert Kubica's horrific rally accident at the weekend, the Pole's co-driver insists that pilot error was not to blame.
Jakub Gerber escaped unhurt from the wreck of Kubica's Skoda Fabia RS after it crashed out of the opening stage of the Ronda di Andora on Sunday and, having relayed details of the accident, explained that he did not hold his driver responsible for what had happened. The local police impounded the car as soon as Kubica had been cut free - a task that only ended an hour after the incident occurred - and are currently investigating possible causes, with some suggesting that a combination of wet tarmac and protruding tree roots may have unsettled the Skoda.
"In a competition, you try to go as quickly as possible," Gerber reasoned, "Robert is the type of person that thinks hard, always looks a step ahead, he's precise, fast and clean. A complete driver."
Although initial images of the accident did not reveal the full extent of the damage to the car, reports that a section of guard rail had penetrated the cockpit appear to be true, with Gerber confirming subsequent shots of the barrier protruding through the rear of the car.
"The guard rail pierced through the car and went all the way through it," he revealed to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport
, "I immediately saw it was serious, and [Kubica] also had a bad bruise under his eye after hitting the steering wheel. He passed out and I exited through the window because the door was stuck.
"The ambulance arrived immediately and then came the firemen, [but] they took more than half an hour to pull him out. The first crew didn't have the shears, so they had to wait for another crew. Then the helicopter couldn't land in that spot, so Robert had to be moved and more time was lost."
Doctors have revealed that the Pole's treatment in the vital hour he remained trapped in the car could be crucial to his chances of making a full recovery and, hopefully, making it back into competition. Having been airlifted to Santa Corona hospital near Genoa, he was stabilised before undergoing seven hours of surgery designed to ensure the future survival and mobility of his right hand, which initial reports suggested may have had to be amputated.
"Kubica lost a lot of blood, [and] that is why the first hour was critical," Dr Giorgio Barabino was quoted as saying by the BBC
, "He was unconscious and could not be operated on when he arrived at the hospital. He needed many transfusions during the stabilising process as well, as during the very long surgery.
"However, things are going well considering that there was substantial damage. There were huge difficulties we faced and the necessary measures were taken immediately. Now he is conscious, he talks and understands what has happened."