Kubica’s recovery could take a year, surgeon says

2011 F1 season

Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

Robert Kubica, Renault, Valencia, 2011

The surgeon who operated on Robert Kubica following his crash this morning said it could take a year for him to recover.

Professor Mario Igor Rossello, a specialist in hand surgery, spent over seven hours operating on Kubica. Afterwards he said, “We will see in one year what will happen with his nerves injury.”

Rossello said it was “really difficult to say now” whether Kubica would be be able to use his hand as well as he could before.

The professor added that the next few days were crucial to ensure the surgery had been a success:

“The danger is in five, seven days, you can have vascular problems, vascular shocks. We could do surgery again to solve these problems.”

With Kubica likely to face a long time out of the cockpit, Renault are expected to turn to Bruno Senna to take his place in the team.

Renault has two third drivers, Senna and Romain Grosjean. Team principal Eric Boullier said last week that if one of his race drivers had to be replaced, “I will get the one who is ready and obviously Bruno is the most ready driver.”

This video shows more from the interview with the doctor, as well as footage of Fernando Alonso who went to visit Kubica.

Update: Renault have issued the following statement:

“Robert Kubica underwent a seven-hour operation at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure this afternoon.

“The Lotus Renault GP driver had been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm and leg following a high-speed accident at the Ronda de Andora rally this morning. He also suffered severe cuts to his forearm, which could have an impact on his right hand mobility.

“Doctors are reasonably satisfied with the way the operation went. Tonight, Robert’s condition remains stable but serious. He has been placed into an induced coma and could be woken up in the morning.

“Professor Mario Igor Rossello, Director for the Regional Centre of Hand Surgery at San Paolo Hospital in Savona: ‘It has been a very important and difficult operation. Robert Kubica’s right forearm was cut in two places, with significant lesions to the bones and the tendons. We did our best to rebuild the functions of the forearm.

‘It took seven doctors, split into two teams and a total of seven hours to complete the operation. One team was the emergency task force from the hospital of San Paolo (Savona) that is normally appointed to treat this sort of injury, while the other team came from the orthopaedic department of the Santa Corona Hospital (Pietra Ligure).

‘At the end of the operation, Robert’s hand was well vascularised and warm, which is encouraging. Following the surgery, Robert Kubica will remain under permanent monitoring overnight because his condition remains serious.’

“Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director of Lotus Renault GP: ‘The news of Robert’s accident came as a real shock to the whole team. All of us, at Lotus Renault GP, wish him a quick recovery.

‘We have been really impressed with the way the doctors looked after him today and we would like to thank the whole team of the Santa Corona Hospital for their professional approach and dedication.

‘I will be travelling to Italy tomorrow, along with Vitaly Petrov, in order to see Robert and tell him that we are impatiently waiting for his return.’

“Another update will be made tomorrow morning at 9:30 CET (8:30 GMT), at the hospital, by Professor Rossello and Daniel Morelli, Robert’s manager.”

Thank you to everyone who emailled and Tweeted to let me know about the video

Robert Kubica rally crash

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285 comments on Kubica’s recovery could take a year, surgeon says

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  1. Andy92 (@andy92) said on 6th February 2011, 22:17

    Damn. This really suck for Robert, possibly his best chance so far of sitting in a championship winning car and this happens.

    Get well soon Robert.
    Will he be another case of what could have been?

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 6th February 2011, 22:18

      Will he be another case of what could have been?

      I hope not.

      • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 6th February 2011, 23:13

        Kubica’s incident has made me ill to my stomach, just like what happend with Massa.

        I’m just feeling sad at the moment just like alot of people here. This week will be one of the longest for all of us, hoping for a good, no, no a GREAT result for Kubica when they check up on him.

    • Franton said on 6th February 2011, 23:44

      Too early to tell. I will state however that the last drivers I can remember retiring from F1 for medical reasons were Allesando Nannini (who had a helicopter accent involving his hand) and poor Martin Donnelly. Both of those accidents were around 1990.

      Both Allesando and Martin later competed in various sports car formulas. It may stop him from F1 but won’t stop him racing.

      • The sport was robbed of some great upcoming talent with Nannini and Donnelly having there careers cut short with there terrible injuries. I wish Robert all the best and hope that he will again be able to jump into a race car.

      • Brundle had a close call when he broke both his ankles in the 1984 USGP, at that time it wasn’t even clear whether if they were going to amputate his feet!

        That said, it’ll never be known whether if he could have won an F1 race (or WDC) if his injuries didn’t occur since he was considered on par with Ayrton Senna then…

    • I’m afraid it may well be. The median and ulnar nerves the surgeon refers to are the main nerves allowing the muscles of the forarm and hand to move. Nerves do not repair in the same way as muscles and bones, at best they re-grow exceedingly slowly, at worst not at all. The surgeon is trying to explain in the most considerate way he can that it will be a year before we see whether Robert can move his hand/forarm in any normal way, such as to hold a pen, let alone drive a racing car. This is an incredibly sad piece of news and I wish Robert and his family all the best.

      • That seems a realistic assumption. I’m terribly sorry for both Kubica and everyone at Renault — I guess now we’ll never know how good Kubica is, and how good this year’s Renault is.

  2. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 6th February 2011, 22:17

    That’s terrible news. I hope he makes a full recovery and is back next year.

    • Awful News, worst stroy of the year. Really terrible to see something like this happen to such a promising talent.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 7th February 2011, 4:03

        It’s undoubtedly that saddest thing in motor racing to happen since Massa’s accident.
        Kubica was and is one of (if not the) best driver in Formula one. I look forward to seeing him recover.

        • It’t not quite as bad as Massa’s incident for me but that’s because there seemed to be a chance Massa wouldn’t survive but at least we know Robert will. It is awful news but F1 drivers do tend to recover very quickly so hopefully this is just a set back.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 7th February 2011, 19:19

            It sounds like Robert’s life was in question at first, but I get what you mean. It’s quite different as well in that we weren’t all watching it happen live, so there was much more hearsay and misinformation compared with Massa’s accident. I hope you’re right, and this is just a temporary setback on his road to becoming a world champion…

  3. Better one year then never, although even that may be a doubt, for F1 driving at least…

  4. Regis said on 6th February 2011, 22:18

    This is so sad ! I hope he gets better real quick !

    On another note, Renault won’t have an experienced driver next year. Petrov was always a second behind Kubica, Senna won’t do any better. We will never see the true potential of the Renault unless they can get someone else in there.

    • Dipak T said on 6th February 2011, 22:32

      As innaproprite a time this is to say this – Boullier did state that Senna was the man in waiting, and he therefore must be given the chance. How else are you going to blood new drivers? Senna’s death was an opportunity for Coultahrd to enter the sport. BMW backed Vettel to replace Kubica after his huge crash in Canada.

      You may see it as a waste for the R31 to be placed into the hands of two inexperienced drivers, but its not. Its a huge opportunity, one that must be grasped with both hands. It can make or break a driver – whos to say that a Heidfeld could wring all the potential from that car and Petrov and Senna couldnt?

        • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 6th February 2011, 22:45

          … not to mention the fact that it would be jumping to some pretty big conclusions to assume that the R31 will be a race winning car. It’s possible, but certainly not guaranteed at this point.

      • Regis said on 6th February 2011, 22:51

        Kubica’s life is not in danger, as sad as a moment this is its not innapropriate to talk about his replacement Dipak T.

        You see it as a great opportunity for 2 rookies, i see it as a waste of a good car. I think they need a Raikkonen in there, or Villeneuve.

        • Raikkonen would be interesting actually – last time he was slogging a KERS car around he seemed to do pretty well.

          • Franton said on 6th February 2011, 23:40

            If it’s a choice between Senna who’s driven a mostly up to date F1 car recently, or Raikkonen who last drove a car over a year ago and wasn’t too committed when he did so … i’ll pick Bruno.

            At least Bruno is hungry for the challenge.

          • morningview66 (@morningview66) said on 7th February 2011, 1:16

            First of all, this is terrible news and i wish Robert the speediest of recoveries.

            Secondly it puts Renault in an absoloutly dire position. You can tell they have high hopes of the R31 and they really need a strong leading driver to develop the car at a time like this. I honestly think Petrov/Senna just isnt good enough. They need a strong race winning driver to give them direction,and there’s just not one on the market.
            Raikkonen just isnt coming back lets face it so that leaves them with who…. Heidfeld? that’s a risk…….

          • Jay Menon said on 7th February 2011, 1:23

            This is very unfortunate. Kubica was looking to be in good shape to win races this year.

            I cant see Bruno Senna being faster than Petrov. Kubica always managed to pull a couple extra tenths out of the car, which is why he was capable of challenging the big guns for results.

            If you look at Senna’s performance in HRT last year, he didnt exactly blow his teamates away now did he? Petrov had his moments, and I think he has talent, but lets see how he does this year, the second year is always more difficult than the first.

            If I was Renault, I would looking to bring an experienced head back into the cockpit. Driving with two “sort of” rookies will not do them any favours. They should knock on Kimi’s door and give a year’s contract.

            Who else can they call on?

        • marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 7th February 2011, 1:18

          I’d rather put Yamamoto in a car than Villeneuve.

          I agree, new talent must be given an opportunity. I’d go for Hulk-Petrov though. It wouldnt hurt Senna to spend a year on the sidelines and learn not to spin.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 7th February 2011, 2:15

            But the point is Senna is their reserve driver, Hülkenberg is not. Contracts for such contingencies are already in place. I think it’s likely Senna will get the seat.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 7th February 2011, 3:16

          You see it as a great opportunity for 2 rookies, i see it as a waste of a good car.

          In 2007, De La Rosa could have got the second Mclaren drive. But they gave it to the rookie you-know-who and a year later, he was world champion.

          • Hare (@hare) said on 7th February 2011, 6:15

            Yeah… Lewis Hamilton was very far from your average rookie. He’d been standing out and winning races since he was 8? He was a groomed superstar …

            Speaking for myself, I expected him to come in to f1 and blow the thing wide open.

            However, in principle you’re right, we will see. If Bruno gets a season in that car, he’ll either be brilliant or show himself wanting. We’ve got Vitali to compare him with, so they’ll both be keen to beat, and keep beating their team mate for credence.

          • Senna has only had a few years racing since he gave it up (forced) after Ayrton died.

            I’d hardly say that Senna is just another through the ranks, he shot through them madly.

            I’d saythe most likely situation is this:
            Senna – Wants drive and to prove himself. HRT was **** and he smashed Petrov in GP2 in 2008.
            Kubica – Will need all the sim time he can get to keep himself up over his recovery period.
            Devopment work needs to be done – either 1 experienced drive to do it or Kubica in the sim.

            I’m guessing it will go something like this
            – Senna in race seat. Will look again after flyaways to see if he is improving. THen halfway through season again to check. Expecting Senna to beat Petrov more often that not by half way through the season.
            – Kubica can develop the car as much as he can from the sim. He needs as much time in there as possible to keep himself up there and the work will help the team.

      • Fixy (@fixy) said on 7th February 2011, 15:14

        whos to say that a Heidfeld could wring all the potential from that car and Petrov and Senna couldnt?

        Taking especially into account that Heidfeld’s talent has been observed since 2000, so we know how he is, whilst Senna and Petrov may be even better, but we have not had enough time to valuate them.

  5. John H said on 6th February 2011, 22:19

    Nerves can take quite a while to repair – but at least there is a chance of a full recovery – that’s very good to hear.

    All this talk of the hand injury must also mean that the other broken bones should recover normally within that time.

    • Sush Meerkat said on 7th February 2011, 8:10

      but at least there is a chance of a full recovery – that’s very good to hear.

      The way the stories are coming out about this it sounds like if it was you and me they would have amputated instead of repaired.

      • Palle said on 7th February 2011, 8:59

        No, I don’t think so. Doctors of that caliber often has a great deal of professional pride – only if they have multiple injured people and has to choose between them, they would pick the more promissing patient over the hopeless case…But of course if You are much older and in average condition, then the probability of healing properly will be lower, so in that way You might be right.
        I hope he will be able to get back to a good life for himself after this. If this means racing F1 again, then fine if not I hope at least he can compete in other racing series…

  6. Victor. said on 6th February 2011, 22:20

    Well, as much as it makes me feel upset, I think at the end of the day one has to complement Prof. Rossello. It’s a massive shame Kubica won’t be able to drive the R31, but really, he still has his hand, and above all, his life.

    Having said that, boy do I hope he recovers quickly and makes a similar comeback as he did on the Norisring in 2003 ;).

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 6th February 2011, 22:25


      I do keep my hopes up. Like the doctor says in the video, these race drivers are really something special and have shown incredible strong will in recovering before.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 6th February 2011, 22:46

        True. With any luck we might get to see him back in the car before the season’s finished…

        • I think that’s unlikley. He’s lost his chance at the WDC, an there’s no point of putting his recouvery at risk.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 7th February 2011, 2:18

            Wishful thinking on my part, due partially to denial.

          • There’s probably a higher chance of him starting work on the 2012 car and simulator development as part of his physiotherapy than getting him back in the race seat, I’m afraid…

          • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th February 2011, 11:20

            @scribe. Lost his chance at WDC?? You seem to have an awful lot of confidence in the R31. I think Robert will get a shot at the WDC again, but it will just take a year or two longer.

  7. SoLiDG said on 6th February 2011, 22:20

    Let’s hope he can get in an F1 car as soon as possible.
    Even if this will be in 2012!

    I’m putting my money on a call for Nick Heidfeld.

    All the best to Robert!

    • Nick F said on 7th February 2011, 2:19

      Heidfeld didn’t really look that special when he came back at the end of last year.

      Renault have gone from having an exceptional driver and a moderately good driver to just having 2 moderately good drivers. That’s a major blow. Raikkonen is the only one i can think of off the top of my head that can change that. Possibly Hulkenberg. He might be the safest bet.

      They really need to change the rules so teams can test more drivers out.

      • i think they should go for someone with experience whoever that could be and i include klien in that batch with nick and kimi…or juan? just imagine that! i know not happening but nice thought.

        Renault could try and force Heikki or jarno away from lotus due to them having the same engine.

        or try to get glock? would be a good choice.

        Paffet? Wurz? options are pretty slim it appears.

        and then seat share petrov and senna. 6 races on 6 races off. not ideal but might be only way

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th February 2011, 11:26

        Is Petrov that ‘moderately good driver’? You gotta be joking. He is amongst the worst drivers on the grid. I think he will get marginally better this season, but not enough to be Lotus Ren’s goto guy. If its either Senna/Grosjean and Petrov in that Lotus Ren, they will be fielding the 2nd weakest driver pairing on the grid. The weakest driver pairing would obviously be HRT.

  8. Ral (@ral) said on 6th February 2011, 22:21

    Yowch, hope he recovers fast and at least gets full use of his hand back.

  9. Dipak T said on 6th February 2011, 22:21

    Hes alive, and his hand is intact. So thats one thing. If it takes six months or 2 years for his to fully recover, if he does recover, he has our full support. I sincerely hope that this isnt anouther ‘what could’ve been.’

    Hakkinen survived his horrific crash, and he went on to be a champion. I have the belief that Kubica will do the same.

    • His doctor expects it’ll take a year to recover fully, which most likely means he’ll be able to move all his fingers and hold a cup of coffee, at least something quite different from countering the continuous strain of steering an F1 car. It sounds far from intact, mote like absolutely shattered to bits. :(

      I’m not sure why but this news really hit awfully hard. I’ve always liked Kubica a lot (as apparently most have) and really expected him to launch a serious go at the WDC sooner rather than later. I really hope he gets as well as he can as soon as humanly possible…

      The shy unassuming pole was a unique figure among all the prima donna’s. :/

      • David BR said on 6th February 2011, 23:04

        +1 The hand was close to being amputated according to some reports and there’s been a lot of reconstruction work apparently. I’m sure with Kubica’s talent and mental strength we’ll see him racing again, just don’t imagine it will be that quick. He’ll be missed this season for sure.

        • SparkyJ23 (@sparkyj23) said on 6th February 2011, 23:14

          Mental strength ain’t gonna fix nerves – hard work and patience will help. I think he’ll be back in motorsport but i don’t expect him to be in F1. Its just too hard and with all the buttons on the steering wheel…

          • David BR said on 7th February 2011, 0:04

            That’s why I said racing, not F1. Still too early to tell whether he’ll be back, but I truly hope so. I think he’s one of only three drivers in the sport who really push the limits now.

  10. Hairs (@hairs) said on 6th February 2011, 22:22

    Whatever about sticking Senna in the car for a couple of races, I doubt Renault will want to run Petrov and a guy who was outclassed by Klein all year. If I were Hulk’s manager I’d be on the phone a lot.

    • Nigelstash (@nigelstash) said on 6th February 2011, 23:13

      They won’t run with Senna for long. He is convenient PR for Renault because of his name, but when the statement was made that he was first in line nobody guessed they would have to use him for a full season. Renault have something to prove this year, and might just have been able to do it with Kubica. Hulk might offer something better, but at the end of the day there is nobody outstanding that hasn’t been signed up elsewhere.

      • Solo (@solo) said on 6th February 2011, 23:35

        There is Heidfeld. The guy is vastly underestimated. If the car is a championship winning car the only driver from the drivers left that has a possibility of actually achieving it, is Heidfeld.
        His a standard good driver that can get the job done when the car is performing.

        • WarfieldF1 said on 7th February 2011, 9:28

          agreed, nick was better at BMW than anyone ever gave him praise for.
          The problem for Renault is that they only had one good driver and to add Senna beside him would be too risky. When Massa crashed they still had a good driver so it was ok to give Fisi a go, was ok to give DC a shot in the Williams as damon was going well (note that mansell had a few races in the Wiliams that year too).
          They need experience, anfd their reserves and even the Hulk dont have that. Kimi has a rally contract and didnt get on well with renault negotiations last year, Anthony Davidson has a Pug contract, is prob not experienced enough and hasnt been in an F1 car for a while. Quick nick is the obvious choice, the only reason he didnt get the Sauber seat was Carlos Slims money.

          Get well soon Robert, your old team mate would be best to keep your seat warm i think.

        • Spaulding (@spaulding) said on 7th February 2011, 16:40

          I just wish Heidfeld was more motivated. He reminds me of Kimi in that regard, if you can’t light a fire under him he is just another driver, but if you can keep him focused he is actually very quick.

  11. He’ll be back before a year, the guy is made of tough stuff, he will bounce back.

  12. Cesar said on 6th February 2011, 22:24

    All people here is wishing Kubica a fast and full recovery but I think is a good chance for the FIA to review all the WRC safety regulations.

  13. summers said on 6th February 2011, 22:25

    I am happy that they managed to save his hand – best news of the day. Now I’ll hope he will recover fast and be able to race. Best wishes Robert!

    • Roberto said on 6th February 2011, 23:46

      +1. It may be hard to hear about 1 year to full recovery, but we should remeber people were talking of amputation a few hours ago!

      Plus, the doctor hinted that he may indeed have a FULL recovery, and the doctor would obviously be conservative in such a moment

      • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 7th February 2011, 1:34

        It’s always good to be wary of the worst situation from a different point of view it shows he is doing his utmost and doesn’t want to give false hope, he will be with Kubica the whole way until he is no longer needed.

        But like the surgeon said: the next 5-7 days are critical for the hand, if it gets the thumbs up it’s just a matter of time afterwards to get to another milestone. The quicker the surgeons are happy with the continuing results the hand shows, the more promising it will turn out for Kubica within the year.

        I feel we could repeat about this conversation over and over until we get more results, I think it’s best we just try to remember Kubica is in the best of hands and that hoping and sending our support for his recovery will make him work harder to return asap when he is ready.

        Lets not be thinking a year away for Kubica to return but just coming back is what we want the most.

  14. Perhaps a call to Raikkonen? Hmmmmm? He always said he would only come back for a competitive car.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 6th February 2011, 22:36

      That’s Raikkonen out then. Sorry but the belief Renault has got a championship-contender this year seems to be just wishful thinking. Not one lap of anger has been turned in by the drivers yet.

      • The car was fairly competitive last season. With off season improvements, everyone on the same tires, KERS, etc. I think the chances are fair, especially with a former champ at the wheel. I bet Kimi’s managers are talking.

      • if Petrov takes top 5 in quali to Bahrein, then there is no doubt.

        • Icthyes said on 7th February 2011, 0:23

          Exactly – when his replacement will have already been confirmed, or Raikkonnen will be 25 points behind.

      • Agree Itchyes. The car seems like it could be really good but we’re still in testing and this time last year it seemed Sauber would be pleasantly surprising us all but it came to nought.

    • ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 7th February 2011, 4:25

      Raikkonen didn’t want to go to the team 3 months ago, so I doubt he’s suddenly changed his mind now .

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 7th February 2011, 5:03

        3 months ago he didn’t have contracts in place to continue in WRC, now he does. I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be even less interested now, although I’d be delighted if for some reason he had changed his mind, was able to back out of his rally contract, and Renault placed him in the car. I’ll be equally pleased however if Senna gets the seat just to see what he can do in a real car. He could give us the surprise of the season and outperform Petrov…

  15. 2_ UgandanDiscussions said on 6th February 2011, 22:31

    Commiserations to Robert. That means we will see Sen alongside Pet this year. Where’s Kimi Raikonnen?

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