Questions about the future of Robert Kubica with the Renault team have been raised amidst reports that the Pole could return to active driving next month.
Kubica has been sidelined since his rally accident back in February and has undergone extensive surgery on the injuries he picked up when his Skoda Fabia S2000 went off the road and was impaled by a roadside barrier.
Since then, Kubica has been working to return to fitness, with manager Daniele Morelli having said that the aim was to have him back in a car by October.
Renault team boss Eric Boullier has now said that the team needs to know by the end of next month whether Kubica will be able to return to F1 next season as the Enstone-based outfit prepares for the 2012 season.
Should Kubica be unable to make a return, the team would be faced with a decision over who to run next season, with Vitaly Petrov insisting he already has a contract and the likes of Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean – both already involved with Renault – also keen to secure a 2012 drive.
"I will be flexible, because I really like Robert and it will be good to have him return, but in the middle or end of October I need clear confirmation," Boullier was quotred by Globo Esporte
. "My problem is that I cannot miss the opportunity to have Robert back, but, at the same time I need to look after the interests of my team.
"I need to have the best driver line-up, or the best I can get. I do not expect Kubica to be as fast as last year, because I know that when you are off the track for a year it is hard to come back. Also, when you have a serious accident like the one he suffered, it is not easy – but I need to know if he can do it."
However, reports in the German publication Auto Motor und Sport
have now suggested that Kubica could find himself out in the cold – along with Petrov – for 2012 as the team seeks to find additional funding for next season.
According to the report, the need to finalise the driver line-up has raised further questions on how long Renault can wait for Kubica to prove his fitness – with is possible that he wouldn't be in a position to actually try and F1 car until after Christmas.
It also suggests that Petrov could be ousted from his role with Senna and Grosjean being more attractive from a financial point of view.
The report suggests that 'the potential to find sponsors in Brazil is obviously greater than Russia' while with Grosjean, a deal could be a done at a 'discount price with the hope of a subsidised engine deal from Renault'.