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Kubica may miss start of F1 season after rally crash
Kubica may miss start of F1 season after rally crash
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Feb 2011   |  12:59 pm GMT  |  171 comments

Renault F1 driver Robert Kubica has been injured in a high speed accident while competing for fun in a rally in Italy.

The Polish driver, who set the fastest time in last week’s F1 test in Valencia, has suffered a very serious hand injury, according to La Stampa in Italy, his right hand was crushed and surgeons are working to restore functionality.

He has fractures to his right arm and leg, according to the BBC and is likely to be out for some time. According to the BBC he is unlikely to be ready to start the F1 season which starts just over a month from now.

Photo: Darren Heath

Kubica has always enjoyed honing his skills in rally cars, but this accident, so close to the start of what was set to be a crucial season for him and the Renault team will inevitably call into question the wisdom of F1 drivers taking part in extra curricular activities.

A shoulder injury while moto cross riding (although he claimed it was a tennis injury) wrecked Juan Pablo Montoya’s introduction to the McLaren team and one always had the impression that Ron Dennis lost faith in him at that point.

Kubica’s career has already been overshadowed by injury. He broke his left arm in an accident during his F3 days, which threatened to slow his progress through the junior ranks. He also suffered a huge accident in the Canadian Grand Prix in 2007, but was lucky to escape without serious injury on that occasion. If these new injuries in any way complicate his earlier left arm injury, his strength could be compromised and this could have a long term effect on his participation in F1. One hopes that will not be the case.

With a radical new car and a confident technical department, Renault looked set to challenge the front runners more regularly this season. The loss of their lead driver at this stage will upset plans greatly. Bruno Senna is at the top of the list to replace him, an amazing opportunity and a real turn around in the fortunes of the Brazilian. The sight of the Senna yellow helmet in a black and gold Lotus sponsored car will be too much to resist for the marketing people. Senna and Romain Grosjean are reserve drivers, but along with race driver Vitaly Petrov are they a potent enough force to start the season scoring the kind of points Renault need to score to challenge for a top four place? Renault spoke to Kimi Raikkonen last summer but the dialogue ended in bitterness. Renault’s engineers will miss the technical ability Kubica would have brought to the testing programme. Nick Heidfeld is an available and experienced option.

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Absolutely awful what has happened to Robert Kubica and hope to see him back in an F1 car soon. I am Lewis fan but have huge respect for Robert who is an exceptional driver and was looking forward to seeing him on the grid at the start of the season. In the meantime in my opinion if Kimi Raikonnen could be convinced to come back he would be the obvious choice. Luizzi too erratic and inconsistent. Senna unproven but maybe should be given the opportunity in a good car to show whether he has it or not. Heidfield a good possible choice but if Raikonnen is not available I would take a punt on Hulkenberg who I think deserves a race seat and towards the end of last season was showing real promise.


Terrible news 🙁

Like everyone, I sincerely hope that Robert makes a full recovery and he can return to the grid sooner rather than later.

There is no doubt this accident will force teams to look at contract clauses, with more specific ‘can and cannots’ for drivers regarding their involvement in high risk activities away from F1.

Daniel Riccardo would be an exciting addition to the drivers list in my opinion, but only if RK is unlikely to return to the sport. He’s on a sweet wicket as Red Bull reserve driver and seems set to replace Webber when he retires/leaves team.


First of all good wishes to Robert, as I write it looks like he will be out a very long time.

The subject of what drivers do when not in work isn’t new Ken Tyrrel had this with Depailler years ago and his hang gliding.

This has been bugging me all night who was the British driver who competed at the top level with only one hand?


All the best Robert, for one of the best


Really upsetting news. I wish Robert all the best in his recovery.


renault have confirmed that senna will be doing the testing in place of kubica next week at jerez.


I hope F1 does not turn into a place where drivers are forced to sign contracts that tell them they are not allowed to take party in any other form of racing. That would be a big shame!

I hope Robert recovers and is able to return at some point. This years F1 championship is not going to be quite the same even though he was (probably) not one of the favorites to take the crown.


obviously my first thoughts are for robert, he’s a brilliantly talented driver who was doing what he loved to do.

as for the reserve drivers, yes senna is third driver but that’s maybe because he was a lot more cost effective in terms of media coverage and maybe bringing money into the team than someone like heidfeld. however, if you’re actually running the third driver in the car, you’d want heidfeld over senna anyday, especially now with the lack of the lead driver to help shape development of the car.


Feel sorry for Robert Kubica, latest they trying to save his hand


It won’t be great marketing having the car craned out of a gravel trap or tyre barrier every race, I hope they will not be that stupid.


I will have to agree with the people who are saying that the reserve drivers the team has now are not good-enough. I said this immediately to myself after I heard about Kubica’s accident.

The only sensible option I see for them who could be about as good as Robert Kubica has been is Nick Heidfeld.

Kimi Räikkönen would be the best one who is out of F1 now and who has the recent experience and success from F1 to justify being there, but he is not available, so we can forget him from this list. So Heidfeld is their best bet if they need someone who can be about as good as Robert Kubica.

Heidfeld may not be an exciting choice but I don’t see who else could they call if they want to mount at least a somewhat-serious challenge in the championships.

You can’t put this weight on Vitaly Petrov, and I will be shocked if the team decides they don’t need any better than Petrov to lead their charge in the championships this season. That would show gross incompetence by the management of the team to handle such a crisis.


You can safely exclude Kimi Räikkönen from the list of replacements. He has commitments to rallying signed up for this year and for example his co-driver has committed himself to be Kimi’s co-driver.

I can’t see Kimi breaking all of the commitments he has made to rallying just because some F1 driver got injured. It would not be a good way to go about business or sport.

Leaving the commitments aside, I don’t think he is desperate to get back to F1 at all. Many of his fans may be, but he is not. It does not make sense for him to come back to a team which is most likely not a front-runner. He won many races and the WDC and driving for WCC points for Renault may just not be appealing-enough!

Kimi has not ruled out a come-back to F1 out completely but it won’t happen this year that’s pretty clear.


really gutted for Bobby K.

in my opinion he was more than equal to most of the current crop of drivers with WDC’s under their belt.

such a shame.


Can see Renault hiring Fisichella, makes perfect sense, he has driving for Renault in the past he is available (I am sure Ferrari will let him go) and has experience. However I am hoping Bruno Senna gets the seat because he deserves a chance to show what he can do.

Hope Kubica get better soon and is nothing that will ruin his career.


Get better soon Robert – I hope your recovery is as speedy and “full” as possible.


I wish a speedy and full recovery to Robert (as we all do).

I understand the calls for Heidfeld and Hulkenberg to be his temporary replacement, but it really has to be either Senna or Grosjean, otherwise it makes a mockery of having appointed reserve drivers in the first place. I would go with Grosjean, as he has proven he wants to race, and has done pretty well in lesser series.


Not necessarily – you don’t choose a reserve driver with the intention of them taking over the lead driver role for the majority of a season. They are there to help develop their career, bring in a bit of money to the team (sometimes) and to stand in for the odd session, maybe the odd race if absolutely necessary.

A top driver is unlikely to take a reserve driver role unless there is nothing else available – look at Hulk for example. In circumstances like these a team does need to consider drivers outside their reserves as they need someone capable of leading the team, pushing for top scores and helping development. I suspect Senna could be a good driver but he needs a team leader to sort the car. Grosjean, well, who knows? He seemed to have his moments last time around but didn’t set the world alight. Petrov certainly can’t give the team direction, you need someone with the experience to do that.

For the sake of the team they need someone with more experience.


This is terrible news for Kubica, and for any fan of Formula One. Here’s hoping the true nature of his injuries isn’t quite so severe, that he makes a full and swift recovery, and that the team stands by him in the interim.


For one day in the last two years I haven’t been on the Internet. Just logged on to see this.

Wishing Robert a full recovery (hopefully). An absolutely top guy. Always hate to see news of anyone getting injured.

Sounds like the guy operating on his hand is one of the best in Italy.

Get well soon Robert.


The Gods are having a private joke amongst themselves at our expense.

I can see Kimi coming in for Kubica and winning the Drivers’ Championship, giving a two fingered salute at F1 and going back to Rallying at the end of the Year with his No.1 Status. That should do Bernie’s nut.


These guys know the risks, but still … a damn shame.

I don’t understand all this Kimi talk … he didn’t want to drive for them before, why is he suddenly going to help them out now?

Hopefully we will see what Bruno can do in a decent car, but first of all let’s hope Robert’s injuries are not as bad as all the reports suggest.



Goodness me!! He’s on the operating table and all people can talk about is replacements?!

Kimi fans, hate to break it to you, he’s not coming back. Heidfeld? Why oh why?! He’s had his chance. Senna is the 3rd driver and Renault have confirmed Senna is likely to get the seat if Kubica can’t compete. There is nothing to discuss here.

But I stress again, the man you are discussing is on the operating table and was earlier on today was fighting for his life. Quite frankly, unbelievable stuff! Can we just wait until we have confirmation that the operation was OK first?

My thoughts are with Kubica and his family.


When did Heidfeld have his chance? Did he get promoted to a fast team when he beat his team mate Kimi? Or Massa? Or Webber? Or Kubika? He has always been in mid range or backmarker cars, Heidfeld is the most under rated driver in the world and can still perform.

PS: We fans are not heartless, I and many others hope for RK’s full recovery ofcourse.


Formula One has always been a rather unemotional sport. You obviously think it heartless, but that is the way the sport has always been.

If you don’t think his team is at this very minute working full stop to find a replacement, you’re greatly mistaken.

Personally, I find it odd when the followers of stick and ball sports try to apply that level of sporting morality to a truly dangerous profession like motorsport.

Perhaps the tremendous danger implicit in the sport is what makes Formula One more akin to an military battle than a stick and ball sports.

Whatever the reason, that is the way of F1. Someone is gone. OK, we’re in a war people, get on with the work and find a replacement.


I agree that is what the team in a corporate F1 world will in all likelihood be doing.

But that doesn’t mean we as fans have to succumb to this level.

Now that Kubica is out of surgery, it would be appropriate for that discussion amongst fans to happen. That argument can be as passionate or matter as fact as we like. But whilst someone’s life is at risk under the operating table, that was not the time. I would hope that most F1 fans would not be so animalistic, but there is no hard and fast rule on people’s morality.


I understand your point, but just disagree with you. Just because the sport is like that, doesn’t have to mean the fans have to be like that.


You miss my point.

This has nothing to do with “Corporate F1”. Decades before there was a single big corporation in the sport, Formula One was ever as emotionless, some would say heartless or ruthless.

Passion, heart, niceness all have a place. such a place has nothing in common with Formula One.

By asking F1 to be civil and nice, you’re asking F1 to be something it has never, ever been, and in my mind, shouldn’t be.

It’s a very dangerous profession, the mentality that goes with such danger is one of required dis-attachment. It’s a mentality where you know bad things are definitely, positively, 100% bound to happen. In this, F1 has more in kind with the military than with stick and ball sport.

F1 is a hard world, drivers get injured, drivers die. Everyone quickly moves on.

Marty McSuperFly

Gut wrenching news.

Herbet survived what would normally have been an amputation at the ankle to eventually return to racing (though arguably he was never quite the same). Hopefully Kubica can make a return.

Such a shame for everyone involved


Only Kimi Raikkonen is at the same level as Kubica. There is no point to give a potentially winning car to a second driver who has been beaten many times by mid-class drivers just because he is the official replacement. Too much money and effort go into an F1 car until its got a great potential for race wins. Renault just may have one great car this year. No point to waste an opportunity like that. Get well soon Robert!



They’re not going to care about hurting a test drivers feeling, over getting someone who can drive to the potential of this car.

I’d expect a move for Webber or even a Massa. Both drivers look like they’re on their last year at their current teams, so buying out their contract would not be impossible. Both have the ability to win races.


Really dumb.

But, thats young athletes for you: bulletproof and immortal.

Now, if Renault hires an outside driver, what does that say about the practice of having test/reserve drivers on staff?


Some reports are saying that his left hand/arm might have been amputated.

I sincerely hope that is not the case, but if this is the extent of the injuries then his F1 career is unfortunately over.

I wish RK well.

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