Debate has raged over the past week as to just what F1 drivers should and should not be permitted to do in the way of dangerous extra-curricular activities following Robert Kubica's high-speed rallying crash that has sidelined the Pole for what looks set to be the majority if not all of the 2011 world championship campaign – and here are some views from inside the paddock.
There are those that contend that to let its lead driver indulge in such a risky past-time was suicidal on the part of Kubica's employer Lotus Renault GP, and that the 26-year-old himself should have had more common sense, particularly being on the verge of what was looking to be the best season of his top flight career with the striking, innovative new R31.
The Enstone-based outfit's team principal Eric Boullier has adopted a 'not guilty, m'lud' stance, but many have accused the Frenchman of being short-sighted and claim that he should have reined in Kubica's eagerness to go rallying. Others, though, recognise that in an ear of limited testing, drivers still need to find some kind of winter-time adrenaline 'fix' and need to keep themselves race-fit, and argue that there is more chance of being knocked down going to buy a loaf of bread, as Boullier put it.
And as to the future, what kind of impact do the experts reckon the accident will have on Robert's future in F1? He has already expressed a desire to rejoin the grand prix grid before the forthcoming season it out – but will he come back the same driver as before?
Here is what they have to say...
Lewis Hamilton – F1 rival:
“I've raced against Robert on many occasions, and he is a fantastic driver and a great guy to race against – very tough, but fair and somebody you can always trust. I was extremely concerned when I heard about his accident. My thoughts really go out to him, and I hope and pray that he'll be able to make a full and speedy recovery and that he'll be back racing with us all very soon.”
Mark Webber – F1 rival:
“Compared to Robert, I had a scratched finger,” the Red Bull Racing star told Auto Motor und Sport
, referring to his own recent leg and shoulder-breaking mountain-biking falls. “Our perception of risk is different to normal people.
“First of all, Robert should thank his lucky stars; to survive something like that is already a gift from God. From now, it will be about the head. He is going to go through the ups-and-downs, because after three good days of training you have a bad one and you wonder if it's all going to pay off. He has to be patient, which for a racing driver is exactly the worst thing – we are hyperactive and he will want to see progress every day, as we do with our jobs. He just has to give it the time it needs.”
Timo Glock – F1 rival:
“I was on my way to the airport when I got the message that Robert had had his crash, and when I got off the 'plane I got the message that it looked pretty bad. I know him well from my BMW days when I was a test driver there, and I hope he is back as soon as possible.
“I had a chance with Toyota to drive a World Rally Championship car in 2009 on a hill climb in Germany. It was a fun event, and Toyota were fine with it. It's difficult to stop racing drivers jumping in other cars. Rally driving is fascinating, and I had another chance to do it at Goodwood, too. It's so much fun and requires so much car control. If you have the chance to drive a car like that, you want to do it again.