Mark Webber admits it is a 'big loss' for the F1 grid that Robert Kubica looks likely to be forced to sit out the 2011 season.

The Pole is now out of intensive care following his accident on a rally in Italy at the weekend but faces a long road to recovery and could be out of action for anything up to twelve months.

Nick Heidfeld is in pole position to replace his former BMW team-mate in the Renault line-up after being called up to test for the team at Jerez this week but Webber said it was a loss to the sport that Kubica isn't likely to feature for at least part of the year.

"It was a big shock for all of us, I couldn't believe it," he said. "I'm happy, as it looks like the people involved have done an incredible job for him after the accident to keep him in the best shape possible.

"It's a big loss for our sport that he's not here this year and a big loss for us as competitors, as we're motivated to race against the best guys in the world and Robert is one of them. I wish him all the best for his recovery; every day he'll make progress and I'm looking forward to having him back when he is ready."

Webber was speaking after the opening day of testing at Jerez, where he posted the third quickest time on his latest run in Red Bull's new RB7.

"It was pretty good today," he said. "There were a few red flags, but we did almost 100 laps and the car ran well. On the performance side I think we're going okay; it's very early and you don't know who's doing what, but we're focusing on ourselves and seem to be going in the right direction."