Robert Kubica has revealed that he is to test the extent of his recovery from his horrific rally accident in February by putting himself back behind the wheel of either a race car or simulator in October.
The Pole saw his 2011 F1 season cut short just days after topping the times in testing with Lotus Renault GP, after a crash on the Ronde di Andora Rally in Italy left him with broken bones and a partially-severed right hand. He has undergone five operations in the months since then, with the final one a couple of weeks ago freeing up his right elbow, which had been immobilised to aid the healing process.
While Renault team boss Eric Boullier has always maintained that the facility to test would always be open to Kubica, the Pole was not expected to return until later in the year, and then in the team's simulator at Enstone. Manager Daniele Morelli, however, told the BBC
, that his charge would be back in action sooner than anticipated, and insisted that the means of testing his recovery was not of great concern.
"In October, we think he can put a helmet on to give a message on what he can do," the Italian noted, "It's important that he can start to drive - whether it's in a simulator or in a road car is not important.
"Robert has started the final part of his recovery and this is a very important step. The next day [after the fifth operation], Robert could right away move his elbow with almost normal movement. We still need nature to do its work, but we do not have a concrete obstacle now, it is a matter of time."
It is widely expected that, should the 26-year old make a sufficient recovery, he will be back in the Renault line-up for 2012, and Morelli has no doubt that Kubica will be in line for a return.
"We do not have concerns on the final outcome of the recovery of Robert," he said, "He will decide when he feels he has the condition to drive any car, [but] he has never lost the feeling in his mind that he would be back."
Despite his optimism, however, Morelli believes that it would be both far-fetched and reckless to expect Kubica to return to race action before the end of the current campaign, despite suggestions that he could test his fitness in the season-ending Brazilian GP at Interlagos in November.
"Renault have given us assurances that there is a seat for Robert [in 2012] and, so far, we've had their full support, but there must be a reason to be there because you cannot just jump in the car as if nothing had happened," he cautioned, "Robert would need some preparation, [and] I would be happy if he is not
driving in Brazil, [even though] I know that he could drive."