Despite having effectively disappeared from Lotus F1's radar amid concerns over his return to fitness, Robert Kubica insists that he has not given up on a return to the top flight.
The Pole, who appeared set for a strong 2011 campaign before suffering serious injuries while competing on the Ronde di Andora rally between pre-season tests, continues to make progress in his recovery, but has yet to prove that he can handle an actual F1 car, as opposed to a simulator. Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier this week confirmed that there has been no contact with Kubica since the start of the year, but other teams - including Ferrari - are reported to be keeping an eye on the former World Series champion's recuperation.
"He stopped contact with us months ago," Boullier revealed in the build-up to this weekend's Italian GP, "I cannot make any assumptions about anything because I am not in contact with him anymore."
Kubica, however, remains optimistic that he will be able to find his way back into the top flight, although he admits that he is not expecting to find a seat next season. He continues to be listed among the possible replacements for Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2013 but, if a move to Maranello ever comes to fruition, would be more likely to slot into the line-up in two seasons' time when the new rulebook comes into force. Until then, Kubica - who has stayed away from grands prix to recover out of the spotlight - will satisfy his competitive urges by returning to rallying, starting with the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana event this weekend.
"Back in F1? In 2014 maybe, but I still don't know if my journey will take me there," the 27-year old - who suffered a partially severed right arm and multiple fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg after a crash barrier pierced the cockpit of his Skoda rally car - told SkySport24
, "I wanted to experience the rush of the race, so now I will do this then the rally in San Martino then we will see.
"Being here is already a good step, but I would have preferred to be somewhere else. I have still got a long road to travel and will probably never be at the same physical level as before, but I don't intend to give up."
Kubica started this weekend's one-day event, his first for 18 months, in fine fashion, completing the opening stage - at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza - fully eleven seconds faster than anyone else.