Flavio Briatore expects Robert Kubica to make F1 return in six months
Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore believes Robert Kubica can return to the Formula One grid in six months.
Kubica is recovering from a serious crash in the Ronde di Andora Rally on Sunday, when the 26-year-old collided with a wall while competing in a Skoda Fabia.
The Pole – who suffered multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand in the incident – woke from an induced coma on Monday after undergoing surgery to his hand: an injury that could threaten his F1 career.
Briatore visited Kubica in hospital later that day and left feeling the popular driver will be back in the R31 sooner rather than later.
'I've found him well, compared to the terrible crash he's had,' Briatore told the Italian media. 'I'm very happy he has improved and I'm glad I came to visit him and exchanged a few words with him.
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'Kubica is an extraordinary guy with great potential of recovery. We didn't talk about the crash itself, but more in general about Formula One and his chances to come back to racing soon.
'Considering his ability to recover and his fitness, I bet he'll be back in good form within five or six months.'
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Positive news came from the Hethel-backed Lotus Renault GP outfit on Monday morning when their statement confirmed: 'Robert's general condition is much better today.
'After spending the night under constant observation, he was briefly woken up by the doctors of the Santa Corona Hospital (Pietra Ligure) this morning.
'He was then able to talk to his relatives. He was also able to move his fingers, which is encouraging for the rest of his recovery process.
'Professor Mario Igor Rossello, director for the Regional Centre of Hand Surgery at San Paolo Hospital in Savona, did not notice any swelling or infection on his right forearm, and this is another good sign, although it will be several days before it is known if the operation has been 100pc successful.'
Kubica was left to rest for 24 hours after waking, before doctors consider operating on the Pole's elbow and shoulder fractures.
Renault team principal Eric Boullier defended his driver's decision to take part in the rally so close to the start of the Formula One season, in Bahrain on March 13.
'He loves rallying; we knew the risks and so did he,' said Boullier. 'We didn't want a robot or a corporate man for a driver. It was agreed together.'
Reserve drivers for 2011 – Bruno Senna, nephew of Lotus great Ayrton Senna, and Frenchman Romain Grosjean – are likely to help continue the R31's testing programme at Jerez in Kubica's absence.
However, should Renault's prize asset be out for longer than the Enstone team is hoping, Boullier admitted he will look for reinforcements.
'We are already starting to think and work on a contingency plan,' added Boullier. 'He is definitely out for a couple of months. The recovery will be quicker than one year but it is a bit early to know exactly how long he will need.'