Lotus Renault GP team leader Robert Kubica has been seriously injured in a high-speed rallying crash in Italy, with reported fractures to his left arm, wrist and left leg casting considerable doubt over his participation in the F1 2011 World Championship.

Kubica was competing on the second edition of the Ronde di Andora with his employer's permission when, less than five kilometres from the start today (Sunday), he and co-driver Jakub Gerber crashed their Skoda Fabia RS into a church wall. It took some time for firemen to free the driver due to a guardrail having penetrated the car. Italian news agency ANSA reports that the Pole was airlifted to a hospital in nearby Genoa, with a Lotus Renault GP spokeswoman telling Reuters that Kubica is conscious.

'Robert Kubica suffered an accident at high speed this morning while competing on the Ronde di Andora Rally,' read an official team statement. 'The driver was airlifted to Pietra Ligure Hospital, where he is currently undergoing medical checks. His co-driver is fine.'

Speculation about his alleged injuries ranges from a fractured hip and fractured arm and wrist to two broken legs and a smashed hand that - in a worst-case scenario - may require amputation. Whilst Kubica's condition is not understood to be life-threatening, given that he underwent surgery to his left arm following a road accident eight years ago, there is now a question mark not only over his chances of making the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix less than five weeks away - but also indeed over his very future in F1.

Only last week, the 26-year-old had set the fastest time of the pre-season group test in Valencia in Spain behind the wheel of the new Lotus Renault GP R31, and he had been tipped as a dark horse for race victories and even the title this year following a hugely impressive campaign in 2010. If he is not able to compete at Sakhir, it is unclear as to which of the two recently-announced third drivers - Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean - will likely step into the breach.

Kubica regularly indulges his second passion of rallying - something he has hinted he may switch to full-time once his F1 career draws to a close. He escaped largely unscathed from a terrifying high-speed somersault in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix that left his BMW-Sauber destroyed to return to Montreal just twelve months later and claim his maiden - and thus far only - top flight triumph.

A further statement is expected later.



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