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

  1. Mister Nillionaire (@mister-nillionaire) said on 6th February 2011, 22:39

    This is both good and sad news. Good, that Rossello is giving hope for recovery, I bet he knows what he is talking about. Sad, that it might never be the same with his hand and what is worse it will take long time for him to recuperate.

    All in all, he was very lucky to get away alive with all four of his limbs in place.

  2. Enigma (@enigma) said on 6th February 2011, 22:41

    Is it possible that a driver would be able to drive with one hand? Maybe they could get both of the gear things on the left, so he could upshift there as well, and get the buttons really close to his hand. And what about strenght? Could a driver steer the wheel for the whole race with one hand?

    • John H said on 6th February 2011, 22:44

      Well, as the f-duct one-handed driving has shown in 2010, it’s certainly easier these days.

      But he will need both hands of course… perhaps one hand at 90% is possible although it’s unlikely to be allowed by the FIA.

      • Enigma (@enigma) said on 6th February 2011, 22:47

        Well to be fair F-duct is easy. A driver was using one hand only on the straight and fast corners, which is much easier than in all the corners.

        • bosyber said on 7th February 2011, 8:53

          I watched episode 5 of “The flying lap”, the webcast Peter Windsor is doing these days, yesterday – he had Scarbs and Pedro de la Rosa there. In this respect it is interesting to note what dlR said about using the f-duct: it is easy on the one hand, but it is also very trying, because normally on a straight you can relax just a bit, but in 2010 you had to hold your hand firmly over an open pipe for the length of it, thus really tiring that arm.

        • I don’t know if it would be possible. He’d need to build up quite a lot of strength up in one hand because his body would go through a lot of force and he’d need to use his hand to hold him and the car steady through the corners (especially high speed) lap after lap after lap.

          Also, there are buttons all over the steering wheel so it would be quite difficult even if they were just at one side because he’d have to take some of his hand away from the wheel to press them meaning he’d lose some control. Of course, he could use his injured hand for that and just leave the steering and shifting to his other.

    • It’ll be really difficult, since as pointed out, the driver needs to turn the wheel, make gear changes, press buttons, turn dials and change brake balance sometimes in the middle of the corner…

      Hope Kubica gains full use of his physical faculties…

    • Gustav said on 7th February 2011, 10:17

      I’m positive he will never be allowed to race in F1 with one hand. It will always be a safety issue, also in regard to his fellow drivers.

  3. hey (@hey) said on 6th February 2011, 22:41

    Robert, you silly sod.

    I hope at the start of next season we can see this as an appropriate comment in retrospect.

  4. Mlracing (@mlracing) said on 6th February 2011, 22:49

    Hopefully there will be good news in 5 days, meaning his hand functions will come back completely.

    Does anybody know what the hell happened?? he just lost control, car failure?

    • summers (@summers) said on 6th February 2011, 22:54

      Maybe car failure, maybe bad road conditions – too early to tell. I would say – bad luck. Similar accidents happen in WRC even among the most experienced drivers…
      I hope he will be back in F1 at the end of the season!

    • Maciek said on 6th February 2011, 22:55

      Apparently an unexpected bump in wet asphalt at a hairpin turn spun the car the wrong way and the very wrong way into a barrier, and a broken part of the barrier pierced the car. (I put the link in the other thread.)

      Wow, and he we were just moseying along on another Sunday. Fantastic news to hear that they were able to actually repair him. Sad as hell we won’t see him evolve this season. Hope he’s able to drive competitively again as it’s an obvious passion for the guy and a pleasure for us the spectators.

    • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 6th February 2011, 22:56

      That’s not what the surgeon is saying – he’s saying there’s a risk to the hand for the next 5-7 days as there could still be complications.

      It will be a lot longer before he will know how much function has been retained.

  5. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 6th February 2011, 22:54

    I hate to bring a downer to this, but I showed that video to my girlfriend (who’s a Doctor and trainee surgeon – also has an anatomy degree) and her opinion was that it’s extremely unlikely he’ll drive an F1 car again – she decided this as soon as she heard that they’d needed to reattach BOTH of the main nerves – she says it sound like he basically ripped his hand off his wrist, which would fit with the reports on other sites using terms such as “Partially Severed”.

    Dr Rossello is being pressed for a timescale by the interviewer and his best estimate was 1 year – I think that tells you a lot as well.

    My thoughts are with Robert Kubica this evening, but it now sounds as though he’s extremely lucky to be alive.

    • Mister Nillionaire (@mister-nillionaire) said on 6th February 2011, 23:02

      they’d needed to reattach BOTH of the main nerves

      When was this mentioned? I might have missed that.

      • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 6th February 2011, 23:05

        He named the nerves – ulnar and radial, radial is quite quiet but I’m sure he says it.

        I need to correct my post when I said both I should have worded it 2 of the 4 main, though apparently they are the 2 most important.

        More information here

      • Mlracing (@mlracing) said on 6th February 2011, 23:07

        median nerve, ulnar nerve the doctor says in the beginning of the clip. From what i remember the ulnar is important for the first three digits or last 2 digits of the fingers and part of that hand for feeling etc. IMMA stop because i dont know exactly.
        Anyway those are the main nerves he’s referring too if i’m correct.

        • John H said on 7th February 2011, 21:58

          Correct. Ulnar controls little finger, index and part of the middle finger.

          I know because I’ve damaged my ulnar nerve for life after smashing my arm up 7 years ago. To be honest, I’ve never been as strong in my right hand since, but then again I never quite recovered like an athlete could!

    • Yes, to sever both main nerves must be a lot of damage. Surely there is still risk of him losing the hand – if the veins do not heal properly leading to a lack of blood flow, infection, vascular shock as the doctor said – let alone if he does keep it how functional it will be. Then there is the timetable, he could easily miss two seasons even if he does come back.
      Such a shame, he has shown such promise. Best of Luck Robert, hope you will recover well.

    • Victor. said on 6th February 2011, 23:51

      I’m sick. Let’s just hope Kubica has the strength to overcome this…

  6. Eamon (@eamon) said on 6th February 2011, 23:10

    Man this really sucks. I hope he makes a full recovery and comes back to win a title, but please please pleeeease let Kimi come back!!!!!

  7. VettelS (@vettels) said on 6th February 2011, 23:14

    There’s doubt that his hand will ever recover fully AT ALL, let alone this year. Obviously he’s not going to be on the Bahrain grid, but there’s a very real chance that he’ll never drive in F1 again.

  8. statix said on 6th February 2011, 23:18

    Sunday left me broken and crying…

    Rob, best wishes and hope you will be back to f1 racing.

  9. VettelS (@vettels) said on 6th February 2011, 23:20

    Also, if you assume that Kubica won’t be back until 2012 (if at all), surely that makes Raikkonen a more likely contender.

    If Kubica is only going to miss a couple of races, sure, give Senna the seat. But if there’s a decent prospect of an available seat for the entire season, wouldn’t Senna be a bit of a waste?

    • Yes Senna is a waste of a seat. Heidfeld or Kimi need a comeback!

      • Franton said on 6th February 2011, 23:38

        What? You’re judging a man based on his driving the WORST car last year?

        • He is no replacement for Kubica. That would leave Petrov as the senior driver. Renault can just kiss any chances goodbye if that’s the move they make. They need to sign a veteran driver and pronto.

          • Regis said on 7th February 2011, 2:08

            Thats exactly my thoughts, you need a senior driver in there. A lot of people say Raikkonen would not be good anymore, i completely disagree, he would be able to do it.

    • Scottie (@scottie) said on 7th February 2011, 1:23

      There’s very few drivers which would be a suitable replacement for Robert.

      I think it’s right that Senna gets to show what he’s got in a front running team, especially after HRT. Kimi is focused on rallying, so I’ve given up any fantasy’s there, and Heidfeld is over the hill IMO, he’s never really impressed with his driving in the past.

      Cmon, give Bruno a chance!

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 7th February 2011, 4:13

      People are saying Senna is a waster, but he was in line for the Brawn seat last year before Barichello decided to stay, so obviously some people think he has potential.

  10. Kimi's Ice-Cream said on 6th February 2011, 23:25

    Your GF may be right, but there are several factors here
    -the nature of the nerve injury. A cleanly severed nerve heals much better -and faster- than a smashed one. There are contradictory early reports about the state of RK’s hand (from nearly severed to beaten to a pulp) but they are probably exaggerated.
    -the time of ischaemia (i. e. without appropriate blood flow) the the time from injury to reattachment. It has been fairly long (simply getting RK out of the car took over 1 hour we are told)
    -the ability of the surgical team and the meticulousness of the job. We have reasons to believe it was top-notch.
    -the shape of the injured person and their motivation for rehab. Again, top notch.

    Although an ulnar + cubital section sounds pretty bad, I wouldn’t give up hope. Dr Rosello has been quoted today saying “RK should be able to get back the full functionality of his limb amd _maybe_ (forse) get back to his piloting job. So I would expect to see Robert back in business anytime soon.

  11. driftin said on 6th February 2011, 23:31

    Horrible news, I’m rather depressed about this. I’m also depressed for Renault. After a great comeback last year I was expecting even better things this year and it was mostly resting on Kubica.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 7th February 2011, 7:15

      I think a lot of us are just shocked, and at a loss of words. It would be one of the greatest losses to the sport if Robert is unable to get behind the wheel of an F1 car again.

      But I guess what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. Hoping that Kubica can make a 100% recovery at some point of time, and come back to claim the crown.

  12. Joe Szpara said on 6th February 2011, 23:33

    I am devasted. Ever since Kubica joined F1 he was my favourite driver. I am unlike my fellow Brits supporting Ham and But.

    I am angry at Kubica for doing this to all of us. He should of just been happy driving in F1. Now we may never see him in F1 again which breaks my heart. I have no idea who to support if he leaves..! :,(

    • Carsvschildren said on 7th February 2011, 2:33

      Yeah cos you are the one really suffering in all of this. We sit back and get amazing entertainment from these men putting their lives on the line, what they do in their free time is between them and their employer.

      It’s not always about you.

    • statix said on 7th February 2011, 14:26

      very same here :(((
      im shocked and depressed.

  13. JUGNU said on 6th February 2011, 23:41

    Very very sad news. But this wasn’t needed. Kubica should not have taken such big risks. Anyways one person’s bad luck can be other’s good luck. Would like to see Bruno Senna taking Kubica’s seat and living upto the expectations and if the car proves to be a top one than who knows maybe championship.

    I would say he will convincingly beat Petrov.

    • Agreed. Such big risks right before the start of a new season with testing etc. Unnecessary. Renault leadership should not have let him rally (or any other racing) this close to the start. Its a crying shame but a race car driver will do what they feel they need to do.

      • Impreza_600BHP said on 7th February 2011, 1:23

        he is one of the most passionate racing addicts on the grid, i would have thought a bit of karting competition would have satisified his apetite for racing between F1 meetings, it does ok for Micheal Schumacher, you will often see shumi in Amateur kart racing inbetween F1 meetings, ok its not exactly “safe” (no racing is) but its much safer than Rallying.

  14. Gutted for Kubica, one of my favourite drivers on the grid! Hope he makes a full recovery, awful timing for him.

  15. this is aweful news :( i was really looking forward to kubica this year.. dare i say it. this destroys any hopes renault had for this season :\

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