Lotus Renault GP's team doctor has refused to put a timeframe on Robert Kubica's recovery and potential return to competition following the high-speed rallying accident last month that left him with multiple injuries – revealing only that the period of convalescence is likely to be 'very long'.
Kubica had to undergo three separate rounds of surgery – totalling 24 hours – following his horrific crash on the Ronde di Andora Rally in Liguria in northern Italy in mid-February in which a piece of guardrail penetrated right the way through the Skoda Fabia RS he was sharing with co-driver Jakub Gerber and left the Pole with a broken arm, broken leg and, most worryingly of all, a partially-severed right hand. He also sustained damage to his foot, shoulder and elbow.
The 26-year-old remains in the Pietra Ligure Hospital close to Genoa where he is receiving treatment for rehabilitation and physiotherapy – and where he is expected to have to stay for some time, despite his own clear desire to reclaim his seat from temporary stand-in Nick Heidfeld as swiftly as possible [see separate story – click here
His manager Daniel Morelli has already cautioned that there is no way of knowing if or when Kubica will be able to rejoin the fray [see separate story – click here
], and as his motor racing career continues to hang very much in the balance, those sentiments have been echoed by both Riccardo Ceccarelli and Eric Boullier.
“When will he return? Now that's a question to which no-one can reply for the moment,” Ceccarelli – head of Italian sports clinic Formula Medicine and also a medical consultant to Renault – is quoted as having said by the Press Association
. “I can only answer with what I know, and all we know is that it will be very long.
“I've followed the doctors from the first day, and we have been very lucky that we have had high-level specialists working with him. There are two positive things – the work of the doctors and Robert's physical and psychological response, which is really very strong. His reaction has been good, so if you ask me if I have hopes then I say 'yes, of course', but if you ask me whether I have an opinion, then no, I don't.
“We can only say the surgeons did a great job and Robert is getting better every day, recovering very quickly, which is not a surprise for us because we know Robert very well. He doesn't surprise us by his capacity to react quickly and well; on the other hand, the hospital doctors are astonished. They are satisfied as to how he is reacting to the surgery and to all his injuries, so we are happy with this strong reaction.
“As to whether he will come back, though, it's a question we can't answer. We can't say when or how. We really can't anticipate what will happen. I won't talk about either next year or the following year. We're doing our job from day-to-day, the best possible and afterwards we'll see. It will take time.”
“He's progressed very well, and his recovery is going as well as you would dream when in that state,” agreed Lotus Renault GP team principal Eric Boullier, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live
and admitting that all talk of a return just yet is somewhat premature, even if he acknowledged that everyone that has been in contact with Kubica has been 'surprised' by his positive attitude.
“It's still very early; he's just started his rehabilitation this week, and the hand and the elbow are two tricky parts that got injured in the accident. We still need to wait a couple of weeks, I think, to have a clear understanding of the recovery.
“It's not easy for him to understand [how the recovery] will go, and morale is difficult for him as well because obviously you realise how tough it will be to work and come back. He has surprised everybody at the hospital in Italy, though. All the doctors came to me and said they were amazed about how his mental state could be so strong, and he was even smiling – it was an example for the department.”