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Video: Kubica doctor speaks of ongoing risks to hand
Video: Kubica doctor speaks of ongoing risks to hand
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Feb 2011   |  11:23 pm GMT  |  141 comments

Following seven hours of surgery this evening the doctor treating Robert Kubica has said that he believes the Polish driver will not know for one whole year whether his hand will regain functionality.

I’ve shown it to medics here in London tonight and it is clear from Dr Igor Rossello’s words that the extent of the reconstruction is massive, forearm, tendons, blood vessels, nerves. Kubica’s hand was obviously severely damaged and there are ongoing risks.

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He's booked up with rallying this year. And I doubt Renault would risk another part time rally driver...

It's blatently gonna be Senna. I hope he's up to the task, he's got a lot to do...!


I'm frustrated as well with all the comments linking Raikkonen to this. He's commited to 10 rallys with his own Ice 1 racing team. He won't be in F1 this year and i don't think he has much interest in returning to the sport either.

Although i'm also confused to what the role of the reserve driver is. Boullier is quoted as saying that if Kubica is out for the whole year they'll look at alternatives, but if its the short team they'll go with a reserve. Surely if your paying the third drivers to do nothing it would make sense to use one regardless of the situation?


I agree. Why would a driver try to get the reserve roll if it's unlikely they'll be used.


They would be used clearly if petrov would have a similar season to last. I can fully understand the need to replace a nr1 with something a bit more on par


Why would they even be employed? Seems like a waste of money


I wonder about it being Kimi, the other choices that sprung to mind are Heidfeld... would be a sad way to see him return in particular but.... Sutil, I am sure he would love to get in a faster and more reliable car with Hulkenburg taking his seat at Force India, don't think Renault would be much more inclined to take him than they would be to put Senna in the car.

Regardless I hope that Robert makes a swift and painless recovery. It would be great to see him return to the cockpit but from the sounds of his injuries it seems unlikely... but he is an F1 driver and time after time we have seen them return from horrific injuries so here is hoping.


Im, gonna throw a wild one here, how about Anthony Davidson? The guy never had a good run in F1 in a proper car, and did exceptionally well. Is a great developmental driver, still does/did some simulation work with Mercedes on current regulation cars. And was mightly fast as a friday runner and tester.


No offense bu too many Brits and Germans already in the line-up. This is a World sport and should have some other nations represented. On pure talent alone, the vacant seat should go to Kimi. However, my preference is to have a Canadian in F1. The race in Montreal is such a big hit with drivers and fans and yet we've had no representation since Jacques. My heart says an up and coming Canadian talent such as Gianmarco Raimondo or James Hinchcliffe would do just fine.

My prayers are with Kubica on a full recovery.


I said he was fast as a friday runner and tester, during the days when teams which didnt finish in the top four could have an extra car on fridays. he did do well in the super aguri considering all the bad luck he had, i remember him striking a groundhog in Canada when he was on for good points or being hit by someone else. Im not saying hes the best driver ever, who can know, he never had a real chance to have his say but I was merely pointing out he has experience of racing, testing for honda, testing for brawn gp and simulation work for mercedes, he can also develop a car. Surely hes more likely to come in if they can agree on something than someone whos has willingly left f1 and doesnt want to come back, is happy where he is and doesnt want to come back


Can't see it happening - he's 31, been out of F1 for a good few seasons now - would he be that much better than one of the rookies who has put in a few tests?


is Ant still contracted to Merc? would be amazing if he got the drive


Davidson did a perfectly respectable job but to say that he did "exceptionally well" and was "might(i)ly fast" seems slightly exaggerated. As far as I remember this was the guy who was unable to beat Takuma Sato on a regular basis...


Interesting... I posted this on another article... and I'm certainly not called Stuart...! haha


Kubica was already one of the most unlucky drivers in F1. He will be missed this year but I wish we can see him back well and fit in 2012.


Yes, absolutly, we are looking forward to seeing him next year back in F1!


I'm sorry to say it but I don't think he'll ever drive a F1 car in the future. Tendons are very hard to repair but nerves are almost impossible to repair.

When doctors say, a recovery requires a whole year, they're talking of a normal recovery which allows to handle a glass, to write, etc... I don't think that they mean by that a recovery which allows high precision and high reactivity tasks such as racing.

Anyway, as long as he's healthy for his everyday's life, that's the main thing. Driving is secondary.

It's been great to see Alonso visiting him really soon. I wished if Eric Bouiller did the same.


Could an F1 car be driven single handed??

We saw many drivers shuffling with Fducts

through the fastest corners last year...


Alessandro Nanini had his arm completely severed in a helicopter accident and sewn back using micrsurgery in the early 90s. He was a rising F1 star like Kubica and he was turning a corner having seen improving results. He was out of F1 after the accident but according to Wikipedia he continued racing touring cars and did a few stints in the past masters GP series alongside Mansell et al.

I think there is definite hope for Kubica who I believe to have a stronger mentality and will no doubt be much fitter.


Well Jo, lets try to be somewhat optimistic, no body knows for sure, and even the doctors get some surprises as once in a while happens a so called 'medical miracle'. It does look pretty certain though that this season is tragically finished for Robert before it even started ....



most of the people that cut tendons and/or nerves never recover sense or mobility 100% but somehow great athletes/sportsmen find the way, courage or whatever that is required to get back. I suppose Alex Zanardi is (?) an extreme example.


Read somewhere (BBC I think) that Eric and Petrov where flying down to see him. I am sure that RObert will be getting any number of visitors over the next few days as from F1 people who were all over the globe when he had his accident.


Sounds like he is going to be out, what a shame for him and for us!.

I really hope Hulkenburg gets the drive


Then he's definitely out of Formula One for the entirety of the 2011 season.

Sadly, odds are that his promising F1 career is also now at an end.


Absolutely gutted at the news of Robert. Loved his driving especially his brave, assured qualities on the street circuits where the barriers were of no consequence to him - he was superb. Just would love to see him recover to full health irrespective of driving again, which I think will be very optimistic considering the reconstruction he's had done. Good Luck Robert.

Suppose the Hulk will move to Renault for a large amount of Insurance cash and the option still to return to Force India at the end of the year. Luizzi possible reserve.


Great to see his good friend Nando there. Hopefully there won't be further complications and full functionality will return to his damaged hand. All the best to Robert and his family.


It is good to know that he is alright and the operation went well. Hope he recovers well. This crash is such a terrible news, such a great talent being put on hold for a year.

I sincerely wish him a complete recovery and hope that he gets to do what he loves, the way he used to. God be with him!

Thanks for the update James.


Yet again you have brought us the most reliable, complete and factual news of this tragic accident. Ahead of the BBC and Autosport to name but two. Well done.

It's now clear that as a minimum Robert will be out for most of the season, possibly all of it. Let's hope luck is on his side and everything goes as well as it possibly could.

Renault must now get the best driver they can behind the wheel.

It has to be someone very capable and I don't think Senna is good enough to lead the team. Surely they have to look for a more experienced driver capable of scoring points :

Kimi springs to mind. If his 2011 Rallying drive is still supported by Red Bull and there is that strong engine connection between Red Bull and the former Renault owned team, maybe strings could be pulled to release him.

He must be the best man available, surely ?

Who would you go for, James ?


As much as I'd like to see Kimi back in F1, Renault is not an option for him considering i) how Renault "publicised" their private negotiatons in order to extract more so-called sponsorship money from the Russians, ii) Kimi's devoting his time now to Rally having set up his own Ice1 Racing Team.

News of Kubica's accident is most distressing as he's the driver I support most since Kimi left at the end of 2009. He is an incredible talent who could win a WDC if he is in the right car. He works very hard, is extremely fast, does his absolute max to extract everything possible out of his car, and still maintain good sense of composure and humour.

I really wish and hope he'll have a speedy recovery because he is still young and mentally strong to overcome this unexpected adversity. Good Luck and get well soon, Kubica!


I'd go for Liuzi. He would be motivated...


I'm not James, but I'll give my thoughts anyway.

His replacement will start with an S and end with enna. First name will be shared with one of Sacha Baron Cohen's creations (and it isn't ali g or borat - although that would be rather funny to see in an f1 car).....

I doubt Kimi will do it. If he watned to do it then he would have stuck his hand up and done it last year and signed on for the team when renault made a big fuss about it. There is no way that he hates renault enough to make last years comments, feels strongly enough about rallying to continue there this year and then suddenly decide to go over to F1. As much as I want Kimi driving an F1 car again I doubt he will do it this year. Maybe next, but not this year.

I believe the replacement will be SPOLIER ALERT... Senna.


- Less than a week ago when the Renault was launched, Boullier (Team Principle of Renault) stated that Senna is 3rd driver and 1st reserve. And once questioned who would take over if something happens to one of the drivers, Boullier said that whoever had the most experience at that point would, before naming Senna as the candidate who would take over at that point. I hardly doubt either of the others have garnered enough experience to pass Senna in less than a week since the unvieling of the car.

- Group Lotus love a good marketing thing, they painted the cars black and gold, the have this and that, they brought in exf1 drivers mansell and alesi. They have Senna on the team. They will atleast for this reason alone want to have Senna in a yellow helmet in the cockpit of a black and gold Lotus. Even if just for the flyaways, they might even just stick a bit SENNA on the sidepods or something to make it really show that they have SENNA in a BLACK AND GOLD LOTUS.

- If they are going to go for someone else, which I doubt, then Hideld matched Kubica pretty much when they were together and he is currently out of a drive.

If Senna does get it then in a weird ironic dark twist it will be Ayrton Senna's whose career ended with a crash in a car made by a British team with Renault engines and Brunos who has been given a bit of a boost by a car by a driver for a British team with Renault engines. Probably could be better worded.

I want to see Hidfeld or Senna get it. As much as I think Kimi is the best driver for F1 and whocan do the most with an F1 car right now, I can't see him doing it. I think Senna will get it and I'd quite like to see Senna get a real chance (and no HRT wasn't anywhere near, none equal cars, the team hated him, they invited back the slower of the two, he smashed chandhok in gp2 but only beat him in f1 etc. etc... etc...).


Well Senna is not a great choice because Renault needs a lead driver who can fight for the wins. Unfortunately Senna is not there yet. If he does get the chance though it will either make him a superstar or a nobody. This year's Renault is good enough to be in the mix. Hiedfield or Kimi will be smarter choice in terms of Renault's marketing as well. As good of a driver Kimi is, he is not worth as much he asks for. Plus he is enjoying the Rally life too much to be in F1. So, that's a low percentage option. Heidfield is running around the paddocks for a while to get a drive. He certainly wants to prove that he has got what it takes. So, he is within a shot. So, it will be interesting to see who is the lucky driver.

Kubica's condition is horrifying at the moment. I wish him luck & hopefully this doesn't end his promising career. He is certainly one of the new generation star drivers along side Hamilton & Vettel.


I see your point, but I struggle to see how they cannot atleast give Senna a 'test' during the test. Maybe 1 day next week to do it. If his times are close to Petrov, bingo we have a winner, if they are slower but improving, hard call, if are alot slower then call in someone else. Faster and he'll stick.

I don't think they can easily turn him down nor will the PR department be able to atleast for a few races.

And at the end of the day if the worst comes to the worst, they have had a day of testing where htye only got mechanical testing done not training for a driver.

And the best is that they have a solution.


If they cannot get Kimi, they should try getting Hulk. It's not fair that Petrov & Maldonado have race seats and Hulk doesn't.

But I guess they'll look for somebody with lots of experience. Pedro De La Rosa and Nick Heidfeld come to mind.


Further to the Renault and Red Bull connection, what about signing Daniel Ricciardo for the season?


So sad, hope he makes a full recovery. As for who should replace him, putting Senna in the car would be a huge mistake. I would put Hulkenberg in the car.


Driving that hispania could not have been easy, look at hulk, he would rather take a year out and be a test driver who doesnt actually drive much than drive for hispania. Thats the difference, Sennas nit affraid to drive a car that not very flattering to his talents as a driver. Cut the guy some slack, he had very promising tests and has shown he can drive a car fast.


Klein destroyed him in the other Hispania and has been out of F1 for 4 years


Klein had a quicker car and he did not destroy him Senna had one bad session where he had a problem with the car and apart from that he was faster than Klein despite him being in a slower car, as he was against Chandhok who he outqualifed 7-3. Senna also was only 0.3 secs slower than Button when he tested for Honda/Brawn. He needs a proper chance to show what he can do, I hope he gets the seat.


Unequal machinary is most prob the reason behind that.

I think weber should move to them, get out of the redbull mess he is in. then promote riccardo to a full time seat. I know I know never going to happen!


Im hoping for Nico Hulkenburg....


Poor Kubica, he will not be back this year if at all, such a shame as he seemed to be on top form at the end of last year.

Renaults year is all but done for now as there are no obvious good quality drivers available to replace him aside from Heidfeld.


Sad to see this happening. It is strange how I remember one of your past articles about Kubica's will to participate in the Monte Carlo rally, and how was he unable to do so because Renauld would not allow him to participate.

I was impressed to see Alonso visiting. What a great friend to Kubica he is!

I'm afraid it is going to be a very unlikely F1 return for the Polish star.

It's a relief that he is alive and I hope he will be back in action in one year. Formula 1 is a tough world...


Get better soon Robert!

I hope the medics keep a close eye on him, we don't want anyone else to suffer the same as Ronnie Peterson.


This is terrible news, especially since Renault with Kubica looked as if he was going to give fits to Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Webber and Button. The best to Robert, and hopeful for a full recovery.


good to see fernando there for his friend just goes to show he is human a contradiction to the media nonsence we are used to.


Anybody thought about Anthony Davidson?

Would be popular from the title sponsor, both british products?


That was my thought too, it would be great to have him back but I think he's been out of it for too long...


thats two random names thrown up, that actually make great sense. Especially davidson. He wouldnt need to adjust to the car anymore than what Kubica would have, and he has the laps to prove he can consistently set fast pace times.

Tinky, i hope Renault think the same as you 🙂


"He wouldnt need to adjust to the car anymore than what Kubica would have"

Except for the fact that Kubica drove last week and Davidson hasn't been in an F1 car since goodness knows when. Heidfeld, Liuzzi, Senna, PDLR, Klien, Chandhok, even Yamamoto have more recent F1 experience!


indeed, you are half right. Davidson hasnt been in an actual F1 car for some time, but he has done thousands of simulator laps over the past few years, helping with the F1 2010 game (chastise me. Please)

I cant recall if it was the RBR or McLaren simulator (maybe even williams) but he has been laying it down heavy for the past 24months+


Isn't he a bit busy being the new Stig?


As more information comes to hand it's clear this is a significant injury. I know from personal experience that nerve, tendon and muscle damage to the forearm/hand is incredibly slow to heal. The nerves grow back at mm per week, the big risk is that the further up the arm the damage is then the longer it will take the nerves to regrow. Whilst the nerves regrow the smaller muscles often wither away, sometimes never to regrow fully, and this compromises the ability to use your hand normally. Added to this tendons often also do not glide again any way like they used to. The 1yr prognosis is very optimistic, he will be engaged in physio, learning to use his hand again, 7 days a week for months and possibly years.

I wish Robert all the best, he is a special driver and a supremely talented individual who always seemed to have time for the fans.


Appalling injury, and a massive loss to the sport (hopefully only for this season).

Regarding replacement drivers, Renault can't even consider using Senna, surely. Hulkenberg would mean them having 2 drivers of similar experience in the team, which I don't think will be what the team bosses go for. Kimi, as has already been suggested? He might be rusty, but would be a good sub with a similar 'shut up and drive' attitude to Kubica. Who else is out there, really?

I hope he recovers fully and quickly.


what about nelson picquet jr haha!


I agree, they must go see Kimi, appologise, pay him what he wants, give hime the terms he wants and then give him a car fast enough to beat Alonso in and he will be there...


He has already commited to 10 rallies though


Let me ask a question

You work for Renault f1. You've sacrificed for years to get your car great.

You've spent time. You've invested millions in your relationship with your #1 driver.

And now, because of what he chose to do, you are scrambling to fill a seat. And your chances of wins and championships has taken a hit.

I like Kubica. And I wish him a full recovery.

But in a sport when hundreds of millions are invested, what he did to his team is a real blow.


I politely disagree. Despite what Top Gear might think, top racing drivers can't be kept in a box, to only be brought out when needed.

They have to maintain an extreme level of fitness, as well as razor-sharp reflexes and driving skills. Neither of these things can be achieved through swimming, tennis, and xbox alone.

Top drivers HAVE to race, be it downhill skiing, snowmobile racing, rally, or tri and biathlons. All of these things carry risks, but f1 drivers have been doing them for many years now, and accidents are actually quite rare. They could just as easily be sidelined through a road accident or just walking the dog.

Are you going to start saying that the designers and mechanics can't take risks too? Because they're just as important. The F1 hospitality trucks serve a lot or fry-ups, better watch that heart disease, we've invested a lot of money in you to work on our cars, etc.

This is a tragic accident, but it shouldn't stop some of the finest risk-takers in the world from doing what they do best.


Absolutely agreed. I, for one, like to see drivers demonstrating that they have a real passion for driving. Robert showed his hunger and his competitive nature by entering this event. Unfortunantly, the sad true is that these accidents do happen, although nowadays quite rarely.

I wish Kubica a full recovery but we won't be able to find out for quite a while


I agree. Drivers race for the enjoyment. You can't expect them not to compete in other events just because of sponsors. Motor racing is and always will be dangerous and this could have easily happened in an F1 test or an accident on public roads.

My thoughts are with Kubica and hoping for a full recovery. I also hope Senna gets the drive. I'd love to see what he can do given a decent car.


I agree with the above statement, no one has touched on this really. As sad as we all are with this tragedy, as the dust settles, I am left with slight anger over the incident. All the money and dreams of the engineers, investors, sponsors, etc, not to mention millions of fans, their dreams are now wrecked, all because the start product decided to risk his life one weekend.

I wish Robert a speedy recovery but reserve my strongest sympathies to the other people that have spent their blood and sweat in making the car and product something that would have possibly given the big boys a run for their money. There is no way that can happen now.


"...the start product.."????

Whilst the issue of whether the start product's employer should or should not have prevented him from engaging in anything but cribbage or chess for the duration of the contract is an interesting one, the rather indignant tone of the "how dare he risk all" is a tad depressing.

To then compare the agonies RK will be going through to some engineers work is bordering on bad taste but certainly lacks proportion. The engineers, no doubt well experienced in having to make adjustments to their designs and plans, have the ability to work round this...a luxury RK does not have and perhaps never will again.


When you start referring to a human being as a "star[t] product" you have serious problems.

He has hopes and dreams and a life of his own, he's not a robot. He could have hurt himself in a myriad different ways that put him out of action - in a road car accident, a plane crash, falling down the stairs...etc etc. You may say that going rallying was an "unnecessary risk" but as these drivers prove time and time again, racing is all they know. It's their whole life. And whether you or I judge that to be "right" is irrelevant.

Also, why are you blaming Kubica? I would have thought he says to a team "that contract is great but I want to rally, fix it or I'm not signing" - its then up to the team - do they want him badly enough to allow that sort of risk? Obviously they do.

And as Stirling Moss, Webber and Montoya have proven in recentl years - you don't have to be doing anything particularly dangerous to put yourself out of action. It's unfair to be so harsh about someone who essentially just got their life turned upside down because they were doing what they love to do.


What a sad way to lose a potential title contender for the 2011 season. Kubica's talent is obvious and I was expecting nothing less than a few victories from him this year, having said that, Rallying is a dangerous sport. Both he and his team knew this and as a result they have paid the ultimate price.. Although Rallying is a hobby that Robert lives for, you cannot sacrifice your responsibilities to your team during key tests for the sake of personal satisfaction.


This is very sad news. I really hope this is a cautious prognosis from the Medical team in charge.

My thoughts are with Robert and his family. I wish him the best possible recovery, and hope very much to see him in an F1 car again ASAP.


My question part got cut off:

It was: "how would you feel if you were part of that program?"

Or: "If you had the hopes of a team on your shoulders, would you risk the team's future like that?"

F1 is a team sport. Risking your own health is one thing. Risking your team's chances, and the chances of countless behind the scenes people to touch F1 glory, is another entirely


Any company / organisation / team has to consider that members of staff could be run over by a bus ANY DAY. Many people chose to pursue hobbies that are potentially dangerous. My main hobby is photography - one stupid move photographing Isle of Man TT bikes in action for example, and you're toast. And yet, my employer cannot stop me pursuing my outside interests.

So it goes for someone like Kubica, Montoya or any other racing driver.

(okay, so I'm not on a $30M contract for my work, but the principal still applies)


I fear you have a good point. I cannot understand why F1 driver's contracts do not forbid them taking part in dangerous sports or unsupervised training. I would have an instant dismissal clause, should the driver make himself unfit for duty.

And yet the very reason to go rallying is the danger, it is unpredictable, no armaco safety barriers (I'll come back to that one) the surface type and grip changes dramatically from one instant to the next, you cannot learn the course, instead you rely on acting on the last but one instruction shouted by your co-driver. This is why Kimi left, for the excitement, danger, unpredictability.

OK it is ironic in the extreme that Robert was injured by armaco penetrating the car body, but it was fluke of millions to one, like the Philipe Massa getting hit by the spring.

Nowadays the F1 nose and tub construction is so very strong that injury is usually avoided even in the most outrageous crashes. A few years back it was almost a certainty that any driver hitting the barrier nose first would have both legs broken and often parts the front suspension members stuck through them as well. There was also the risk of the car erupting in flames, I don't remember any F1 drivers doing rallying in those days, they had all the danger they needed. (Ok now I expect a bombardment of facts about old F1/rally drivers)

We have to remember that the team is there not to give the driver a good time but to achieve wins, the driver is merely a component, like the engine the gearbox, the aero etc. He can make a difference in the car's performance by getting it set up correctly for the infinite number of constantly changing parameters, then then driving it on the very edge of adhesion for as long as he can. If he falls off the track he is usually fairly safe in today's F1.

But if he fails to turn up, he is letting the team down. What happens to his sponsorship deals? Does he still get paid?

How would Robert compare his huge F1 crash with his rally crash? The F1 crash was far more spectacular, but the rally more deadly.

"Motor racing is dangerous", it says so on your ticket, there will always be the fluke accident which sneaks past all the safety devices, however much the rules are changed.


He can't, and shouldn't, live his life based on the hopes and dreams of 'countless behind the scenes people'. He has the dreams of F1 success too, but there is no crime in having more than one passion. Renault recognised that, which is why they let him rally. In hindsight, maybe that was a mistake, but they were also willing to risk their glory. It's a tough break, unfortunate, but ultimately not something that should be blamed on anyone.


I feel so gutted and sad for Kubica, Lets look to the positives in this sad situation, he still has his hand, hopefully he will be back a.s.a.p. and back to 100%.



Ah, just as I submitted a response in the previous article discussing this video, this one crops up. Unfortunate timing on my part - perhaps a moderator could delete my post from the other topic as it seems more relevant to post an adapted version of my response here, and if it's not too much hassle, please edit out this paragraph of this post also as it adds nothing to the discussion. Thanks in advance.


Considering that Professor Igor Rossello points out that during the next 5-7 days there is a danger of vascular complications (i.e relating to blood supply and circulation) which may or may not be rectified by further surgery, at this stage it doesn’t seem prudent to completely rule out the possibility that Kubica might yet lose his hand.

The details of the damage to his arm are worrying to say the least, particularly Rossello’s comment that the median and ulnar nerves in his wrist were severed.

I’m certainly no expert when it comes to the anatomy of the wrist and hand but having studied information about these nerves in detail as a result of my own concerns relating to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), I know that the integrity of these nerves and surrounding structures is of paramount importance to functionality and sensation of the forearm, wrist and hands.

Based on Rosello's account of the damage to Kubica's arm, a full recovery with no ongoing mid-to-long term complications seems unlikely in my opinion.

Even if Kubica does regain functionality sufficient to have the strength, dexterity and sensation required to effectively operate a race car, there are still considerable doubts in my mind over whether or not his arm will be capable of enduring the physical exertion which racing in F1 demands in absence of substantial pain, numbness and/or progressive weakening of the hand.

If you read up on RSI as an example, it becomes apparent that physical endurance is an important factor to consider when dealing with musculoskeletal and nerve trauma. Of course RSI specifically may not be contingent to Kubica's injuries but for certain there are many potential long term complications when dealing with nerve damage.

Here’s to hoping he can make a startling full recovery and race amongst the top tier in F1 again, although there are many hurdles he must overcome in the near, mid and long term future if this is to happen.

Undoubtedly he would be sorely missed as an incredible driver with unfulfilled potential should it turn out that he is unable to return to F1. Best wishes to him.


This is terrible news for F1.

With Renault coming up with a promising, if not a daring car and Kubica topping the timesheets on Day 3 of the Valencia test (even if we all know this does not mean much at this stage), I think this accident will rob us of a great talent this year.

This is also a massive blow to Renault's chances of winning a race this season.

As much as I'd like Senna or Grosjean show us what they can do in a decent car, I wouldn't bet against Sutil, Hulkenberg or Glock finding their way to the empty Renault seat.

I really wish Robert a speedy recovery and hope he returns to F1 to the same level as last year, as quickly as possible.


In this day an age we digest info fast.
So we know now Robert will live, he will likely thankfully keep his hand. But reality is likely that we won't see him in an F1 car again, if ever.

But I still don't understand one bit of info. This happened before the start. How? Moment of stupidity like we sometimes see on warm up lap? Warming tires? Teasting systems? Conditions? I've been to 20 F1 races, but never to a rally. I have no idea on what the pre-start procedure is outside what I used to see on Speed. How? I think we need to know how an why? No one seems to have that bit of info.


I've read in various articles that it was BEFORE the start which I don't understand at all. I don't watch rallying (i'm not even sure if its broadcast here in the states) but how could such a thing happen BEFORE you start ?

I'd also like to know how this could have happened. I guess we're all spoiled by F1's safety cell (cockpit). Are the cars not as safe and how was the armco able to penetrate the cabin ? Was his rally car not up to spec ? Sounds like Kubica made a really horrible mistake at high speed and I'm surprised his co-driver is fine. It doesn't sound like he will be able to return to racing but lets hope I'm wrong. At least he was able to keep his life.


Hi Nesto, I'll try to answer your question, but please understand this is just my understanding of the situation - I don't have any insider facts!

Re the accident taking place before the start. I too read reports which said "x miles from the start". In reality I think this is either pedantic reporting or literal translation. It means he'd travelled x miles off the start-line in the rally-proper - not that he was x miles away from the actual start. My suspicion is this was mis-reported and because the report you read.

As to your second question re the integrity of rally cars: Rally cars are phenomenally well built and this Skoda will have been no exception. But the reality of rallying is that there are no run off areas and very few purpose built safety barriers. The stages are lined with trees, buildings and cavernous drops that give no room for error. Harder to believe, the stage is often lined with cheering spectators and photographers leaping out to get a last moment shot of an approaching car! In short, it's frighteningly dangerous even if nothing breaks!

No matter how well built the car is, a sudden stop or full speed impact with a solid object or barrier just feet from the racing line will result in severe damage and, sadly, injury.

If you want some heart-stopping examples of the dangers rally drivers face, just youtube something like "rally crashes" or "rally stages" and you'll get a good idea of the high risk involved.


judging by the way JA explained the crash itself, it sounds like Kubica may have just mis-judged a corner. 🙁


This is really sad, will always remember Kubica when he came into F1. I felt teary when i read this news. Kubica gladly signed my son's autograph book during his 2010 walkbout in Singapore.

Hope by some miracle he will recover soonest. Will miss him for this season.


Agree totally, not normally upset easily but I have always rated this guy as a super talent and a really down to earth chap, since day 1 he has been an asset to the circus. He is a role model and I hope for the same miracle you do.


This is obviously a disaster for Kubica. Let's hope he can eventually make it back, but this year's a right off.

On the flipside it's a golden opportunity for someone else: Senna?... already a tad unlucky to miss out on the Honda/Brawn drive... 2nd chance perhaps. I don't think anyone can be judged on an HRT performance, but together with Petrov it could be the blind leading the blind...

If I were Renault I'd be ringing up Heidfeld, surely on the shortlist for the best driver never to win a Grand Prix. He's never been convincingly outperformed by any teammate, and those teammates include Raikonnen, Massa, Webber & Kubica himself... not exactly slouches!

Let's just hope we don't get lumbered with mr de la Rosa, or, God forbid, Villeneuve!


My gut feeling is this may be the end of Kubica’s F1 career. My sister had a similar accident with her right hand, the nerves, tendons and arteries were all severed by a pane of glass. Although she can still use her right hand and exceeded the doctor’s expectation, she has never regained the same level of dexterity and is now left handed.

I just hope this isn't the end of such a promising and talented driver.


Nothing is ever definite in medicine, but it seems very unlikely RK will drive F1 again. Repair to both median and ulnar nerves - quite apart from any other concerns about bones, tendons and arterial supply - indicates that there will be little or no meaningful hand function at present and for a very long time. Terrible news.

The mechanism if this accident seems quite bizarre. Right-sided injuries in the driver a left-hand drive rally car (i.e. from the middle of the relatively intact occupant cell) are very unusual and must confirm reports of some form of intrusion into the cabin.

Poor Robert, awful, sobering days ahead.


Wow sobering stuff. My thoughts are with kubica and his family.


In this situation do Renault have insurance which will cover this like clubs do with their football stars??

Also I think teams will be limiting their drivers' exploits from now on, Mark webber always tested red bull with his annual charity jaunt but this I feel will end it.


James, do you think that Red Bull, more than any other team, have less authority to stop their drivers taking part in risky activities, given that the brand is such a high profile supporter of extreme sports?


Yes, insurance is very important for both driver and team at a time like this


Reminds me sadly of Sandro Nannini who suffered similar injuries in that awful helicopter accident in 1990. Just when his career was peaking too.


I really thought this would be Kubica's year to shine. This is a terrible thing to happen, the timing just couldn't be worse.

I have so wanted Senna to prove to be a worthy driver but the only yardstick we have had has been his HRT team-mates and they have mostly outshone him.

Renault need a champion driver or one with real promise. Ricciardo springs to mind??? They already have someone who should be good No. 2 this year.

Either way at this point its just damage control...


Cheers James for informing us with more info on Kubica. The state he and his right hand is in sounds utterly horrendous. Understandably very saddened to hear this.


Nice to see Alonso straight over to visit his mate Kubica, makes all the mc.fanboy claims of fireworks if Kubica goes to Ferrari sound a bit silly.


Its so sad to see Kubica hurt to this extent and i really hope he can make a total recovery...its hard enough to get to formula 1 but to then have such an injury!!

I do feel that drivers must definitely weigh up the risks of activities they do outside F1.taking part in such dangerous sports seems wrong when you could have had a chance to win this years championship! Webber's injuries are definitely one such example!

James, what do you think about F1 drivers and their participation in such activities?


feel gutted for the guy. Godspeed, Robert.


Sincerely, as a Brazilian, I would not want Bruno Senna there, I think he does not deserve it, and I don't get his point, he's there due to connections and his uncle's name

Also, this shows how unfair sometimes life can be, LR developed a fairly innovative car with hopes of fighting for victories, Robert was at his prime, and then this happens

I am so sad with those news, even more than I was when Massa was hit in the head, because we all knew after some weeks that he was going to be fully recovered, and in Robert's case, we still don't know it and the damage were much more extensive

All we can do is wish a full recovery if possible

Best regards from Brasil,



Fans of the BBC's Top Gear were well aware that it was anything but certain that Massa would be back. For those who don't know, one of the presenters (Richard Hammond - the little guy) was nearly killed testing a jet-powered car (the Vampire, in 2006), but instead suffered a head injury that looked superficially like Massa's. It took many months before RH was functioning in public again (read his autobiography for more details - an interesting read).

Even late in RH's recovery (he may not even now be 100%), he was still suffering setbacks. And the thing with brain injuries is you Just Don't Know how and when consequences are going to hit you.

All respect to Massa for competing this year, and it was indeed very fortunate he wasn't killed, but he hasn't yet shown the skills and grit that almost won him the 2008 WC (and certainly my respect for his graciousness in defeat). Let's hope he can do better this year.


Regarding Massa, the main concern was his sight, which was not affected, other than that, we, in Brasil, were informed every day about his progress

In Robert’s case, what concern us, F1 fans, is the extent of the damages, doctors now are speaking about many more surgeries not only in the hand but in the arm and leg, this is very worrying, and to be honest, yesterday when those news came to me, I cried, not only because I am a long standing F1 fan, but because Kubica is one of the true drivers, passionate and humble guy who just loves the speed

Also, many motorsport people here in Brasil likes Kubica since 2002 when he was invite to race at a Formula Renault race in Interlagos and smoked everybody, winning comfortably without being acquainted with the circuit

Let's wish all the best and hope he can get back to drive something, because driving is really his passion, his reason d’ etre

Best regards


very sad to hear this, and i hope the best for Robert...

yet, the body language of the doctor when asked if he believes he will be drive like before he seems to doubt that, despite showing some hope...


I think that this accident will remind teams why it is important to select two drivers ready and able to win races, rather than a "team leader" and a "pay driver". Such decisions make the difference between a top tier team and a second tier team.


Makes sense but when Alonso left the team which was not in good shape, they were not in position to hire to steady drivers of Kubica's caliber. No one was even sure that the team would continue to race. That would be ideal to have 2 strong drivers in order to grab the points. Last year, Petrov wasn't able to do that. Now, he has the opportunity to have a two-year contract, and with this unfortunate situation, to step up. As for the replacement, Heidfeld deserves a place in F1. Senna may shine with a very good car. Hulk could also mature in this car but he's bind for a long term relationship with Force India. But since they need a leader and developper, I'm afraid to say that there's few possibilities.


Best wishes to Kubica. I hope he has a speedy recovery. It was a sad and unexpected thing to read about today.

If anyone is up to the job of replacing him, I think it is Heidfeld. He's recently raced, he did well against Kubica while they were teamates, and is more experienced than the alternatives.


I'm gutted by this. We obviously don't have complete information, but it seems very unlikely Robert will race this season. I've been a fan since day one; I'd hate to see his career end before he really has a chance to fulfill his potential. But, sadly, even if he does return, these injuries could change him forever.


Terrible news but it's great to be kept up to date by JA!

I agree with others: Kimi is the best replacement anybody could hope for.

Hope we see Kubica in an F1 car again before the end of 2011.


As reported he crushed at the first high-speed section of the race. Could it be the case that F1 confidence acted perfidiously even for the top class driver as Kubica is? it's very bad news for the whole autosport, he is brave and frank guy and deserves all the best. Let's hope for the rapid recovery


Dreadfully sad news. Just out and out sad news. There isn't a person who loves motorsport who wouldn't be pouring out anything but grief at this time towards Robert.

We don't often hear about injuries like this in motorsport nowadays - major injuries, thankfully, are more rare than ever before - thankfully. But it is always sad when they happen.


Terrible news and best wishes to RK.

The news of a one-year recovery period is very significant.

Whilst I could see Renault management sticking with Senna for a few races, they must now be thinking about finding a top line driver for a year.

Who is ideally only looking at one year contracts, is around about RKs height and build and capable of challenging for the lead -- any suggestions?


Webber seems to fit that criteria but only going into the 2012 season:)


Red Bull .... Renault engines ..... Maybe Red Bull want to de-friction the driver relationship .... Maybe they want cheaper engines... Or more reliable ones!...

Quick! We could start a pointless and fact free rumor! (I know that's not your intention - but I'm feeing mischevious;)



Let's just hope he makes a good recovery. Clearly a big injury and an ongoing threat.

For what it's worth, and to honest, and it feels a very unimportant consideration at this stage, I'd like to see Bruno senna given a chance.

Best wishes to Robert on a full recovery, however long it needs to take.


Not only does this take at least one year off his promising career, but if he returns in 2012, he will be back in a car with which he has had no driving input, and at best will have been able to observe from the sidelines.

The chances of Renault being competitive for 2012 have now been hampered and it could limit his chances of ending up in a winning car in the future.


Thank you for the regular updates James. Whilst I too am interested in possible replacements (my sense leads me to Heidfeld, with outside chances for Klien, Senna and maybe even Liuzzi, can't see them touching anyone else's test drivers), my main feelings are for Kubica in all this.

A supremely talented driver, and his love of motorsport in a variety of forms reminds me of drivers from many decades ago who would compete in F1, F2, long distance road races, and anything else they fancied.

Above all, I am reminded of his solitary F1 win. Though it was somewhat fortuitous, I am glad of it now looking back, as if this may yet see the end of his career or best days, it would have been so so wrong to see him leave the sport without a win on his record.

Best of luck to him, and fingers crossed...


There is footage of the cockpit and it seems the steel guardrail penetrated the drivers compartment from the front. It Forced its way through the left front quarter of the car parallel to the steering column and disturbingly through Roberts left side and his drivers seat. He is incredibly lucky to be alive, but what a shame to see the interruption of such a pure and entertaining talent.


You know in some ways Villeneuve could be a good option if he still has the speed. No-one intimidates him on or off the track. Trouble is you would have to put up with him... It would be fun to see him and Schumi side by side again. Or it could just be a big double disappointment.


Wish you a speedy recovery. You're a very gifted pilot and F1 needs you.


🙁 Poor Robert ... he must be devastated.

With this great tragedy (and it is a very, very sad tragedy to lose an F1 driver as talented as Kubica), it will bring an opportunity for someone else.

I hope Renault are giving young Daniel Riccardo's management a call ...


Wishing Robert a full and speedy recovery. F1 drivers are tough nuggetts, lets hope Robert can get back to the cockpit very soon.


Started as a worrying story about RK missing the opener of this season and now that seems like quite a trivial worry. I am absolutely gutted about this, I can't even explain. I know Robert is a fighter and a hard worker so I hope and wish for a speedy recovery. Talking about blame and irresponsability is total out of order at the moment, anyone with a real passion for this sport that brings us all back to this board should be feeling nothing but grief at the fact that one of the best drivers of our generation is in such a bad way. I know my Polish is a bit dodgy but I think I speak for us all when I say:

"Robert, Wroć prędko do zdrowia! Wracaj do zdrowia!"


All the best to Robert Kubica for a speedy recovery.

Good to hear that Alonso was at the hospital visiting RK yesterday.


I have a good friend who suffered severe wounds in a road accident to his arm which damaged his tendons and nerves. It has taken years for him to get his arm fully functional again and from what we have been reading it sounds like Robert will have the same difficulties. Getting the dexterity back to work in an F1 cockpit would be very difficult as well.

From everything I have read of Robert Kubica he seems to be one of the smartest and most liked guys on the grid. Lets hope he stays involved in F1 and if he doesn't get the chance to be a champion on the track he can hopefully become one off it.

I do hope I'm wrong and he drives again.


Terrible news, get well Lad.


For all the nay-sayers here who think Kubica's career is over,think again. There was once an 'animal tamer' by name Mick Doohan who got his leg turned into pulp,reconstructed with a bunch of hardware shop materials and yet won 5 back to back titles on bucking bronco of a NSR 500. I am sure Kubica will be back,he's made an appointment with the world title and i'm sure he'll keep it.


Really like your kindred spirit.
Let's wish Robert a complete (and speedy) recovery !


BBC reporting that Renault team boss thinks Kubica could be back within a year:


and also that they are thinking about who will drive - if it's short term then one of the reserves, if it's longer term (presumably the whole season) then they'll look at others.


I feel really sad for Kubica. Surely the replacement should be Heidfeld. I thought it was unfair the way he got shuffled out of F1 when he's not a bad driver. When Heidfeld and Kubica were team mates they were on a similar pace. Kubica seemed to be a bit quicker but Heidfeld often finished ahead in the race. Kubica was younger then, and Heidfeld is older now, but even so with Petrov in the other seat Renault need a driver capable of consistently demonstrating the full pace of the car.


Terrible news for Kubica and I hope he recovers.

I does beg the question as to why, one week into pre-season testing, he was allowed to do this. I don't buy Eric Bouiller's argument about not wanting a corporate robot. Surely he wants a fit and healthy driver who can lead the team. Now he hasn't got one.

What interests me is the longer term implications of this. If Kubica is out for a year or more (and I hope he isn't) then that scuppers the idea that he'd replace Massa at Ferrari from 2012. In fact, I can't see Ferrari going with someone who races rally cars in the pre-season test period.

So that potentially vacant seat at Ferrari next year, assuming they don't retain Massa. Vettel has the performance clause in his contract which you reported on the other day James. So who might be a contender I wonder?



you have to wonder what is the point of teams having reserve/3rd drivers if they are not automatically considered/promoted to the race seat if anything should happen to the teams driver's


PR and $$ come to mind immediately.

But perhaps also a driver of suitable caliber might not accept such a role.

Would Heidfield have been content to sit on the sidelines all season as a backup to both Kubica AND Petrov? No way.


Maybe a cost effective solution if the regular driver is out for a weekend due to illness or minor injury, but not for the lenght of time expected in this instance...

Problem for Renault is that both drivers would be a relative unknown.....if they are down the grid is it the car or the man in it. If you have a known quantity (Be it Heidfield / kimi or whowever) then it will be easier for Renault to judge their own performance compared to the leading teams.


A very sad day for the sport. I wish Robert a full and speedy recovery.


Sounds like the early signs are encouraging this morning, with Robert showing some ability to move the fingers which is probably as good as we can expect. The next few days are key though, as restoring full circulation after an injury like this is extremely difficult.

My dad suffered a very similar injury to this 10 years ago and after a 17 hour surgery and two years of rehab, had full use of his thumb but could only bend the 2nd and 3rd knuckles of the first three fingers and had no use at all of the little finger. Kubica will have the best medical care money can buy and hopefully reconstruction techniques have progressed since then. Knowing how my dad fared makes it hard for me to be optimistic about Robert returning to F1, sadly.

As for who will keep his seat warm, I'd expect it to be Senna for the next test but with a replacement longer term. Personally I think it'll come down to Heidfeld or Hulkenberg. If Renault are content to run two sophomores, you'd have to question why they'd take Senna when Hulkenberg is potentially available. He's contracted to Mercedes of course, but I'm sure they'd do a deal to get him some more race time (not to mention some hands on experience with Renault's bold new car). Conversely Renault may look to experience precisely because they've gone with an aggressive, cutting edge design, as there will be a lot of work to do on Fridays to work the kinks out and really get it flying. Heidfeld would surely be your first port of call, although Ant Davidson could be an outsider thanks to his years of testing at Honda and extensive simulator work for Brawn and Mercedes.


Some of you probably doesn't understand nature of this accident. Below picture says everything. Barrier got right through the car (including trunk):


His pilot doesn't get ANY injuries. That was just bad luck...


Very sad news!


I really hope this big nose can race in F1 again.

With best wishes!


Sounds very serious and grim. Best wishes to Robert for a complete recovery.

As far as Renault goes... marketing concerns would point to Senna. Experience and quickness? Heidfeld.



Onboard video from the next car driving the same rally stage. It seems to show the guard rail penetrating the complete length of the car. 🙁


THere's nothing sadder than a stricken car with someone still inside it.

I recognise that stage from the playstation game Richard Burns Rally


Wish you a speedy recovery Kubica.

And there has been loads of people questioning his wisdom.

The thing is racers are racers, they risk their lives for their passion let alone their careers or reputation (This statement is also directed to those who questioned Schumacher come back)


… best comment ever!


Just heard that Renault say RK will be out 'for about 2 months'. Doctors being 'over cautious'.

Fantastic news.........if true.


Guys, I bet it would take a ridiculous amount of money to convince Kimi to cancel his rallying program for this year. I don't think it will happen.

I CAN see Kimi cancelling his rallying program, but as I said, the amount of money thrown at him would have to be ridiculous for it to happen... I think chances for this are extremely slim and I think people are being unfair to Kimi by dragging him into these speculations. He has got nothing to do with the team, he is out of F1, YES he would be the best one for the job, but that's about it. This is not about what Renault wants, this is about what Kimi wants. Kimi doesn't bow to F1, he has never done so and I can't see him start now.


Professional athletes are known to heal much faster than us 'normal' ppl, sometimes verging on miraculous.

Whether its from their conditioning or mindset or whatever isn't known or understood.

Lets hope thats the case here.


This is really sad. I have always rooted for Kubica. He truly seemed to be in the sport for the enjoyment of driving. Just when he found a home that suited him and was able to build a competitive car for him, he has this happen to him.

Unfortunately, it reminds me all too much of former F1 driver Alessandro Nannini and his helicopter accident in 1990.

Speedy recovery Robert. I wish you well.


@ James Allen

Do you think that Raikkonen is also an option for the position?

Cos I think that Renault really have a good car and with Senna, liuzzi, Heidfeld or Petrov they don't really have a star driver who can deliver like Kubica did. In my eyes those candidates are just not good enough. Petrov is not ready to carry the team and quite frankly I think he lacts the talent to be no 1. Is it realistic to go after Raikkonen? I know there's been a dispute last year with the Renault team and Kimi, but now that he has seen that the Renault is good and he won't have to compete with Robert (In my eyes the main reason he didn't want to come back with Renault) so If I was teamboss, he would be the man to get and none of the drivers on the shortlist would fulfill my needs. If Raikkonen was unreachable i'd go after Hulkenberg. Your thoughts?


Sounds like he's not. It's Heidfeld, Senna or Grosjean



My brother also nearly lost his hand after a rally crash. He still has limited use of his right hand and has had to learn to write left handed. He can no longer drive a manual car.

Robert may be able to return to F1 as the gear boxes are semi automatic and provided he has the strength in his hand to hold the wheel and sufficient movement to engage the gear paddles he should be fine.

If he had the same injury 20 years ago his career would have been over but I would expect him to make a full recovery

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