Rally crash leaves Kubica's F1 season in doubt

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The Independent Online

Formula One driver Robert Kubica was injured in a rally crash yesterday, fracturing his right arm, leg and hand. He underwent surgery and is unlikely to be able to drive for Renault for the start of the 2011 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 13 March.

Kubica was driving to the starting point of the Ronde di Andora rally, near Genoa, yesterday morning when his Skoda Fabia car went off the road at high speed and hit a church wall. His co-driver Jacub Gerber was unhurt but Kubica was airlifted to a hospital in Pietra Ligure.

Renault confirmed Kubica's injuries in a statement: "After undergoing extensive medical checks this morning, Robert Kubica has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand. He is currently undergoing surgery at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure. Robert suffered a high-speed accident this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally."

If Kubica is unable to compete in the Bahrain Grand Prix in five weeks' time then he will probably be replaced by either of Renault's reserve drivers: Bruno Senna or Romain Grosjean. One of those two is likely to drive in the second pre-season test, starting on Thursday in Jerez. Last season Kubica finished eighth in the drivers' championship. He finished second in the Australian Grand Prix, and third in Monaco and in Belgium. It was his first season at Renault after four years driving for BMW Sauber.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso offered his support through Twitter. "Let's all support Robert Kubica who suffered an accident," he wrote, "Besides a great driver, he is a great person."

The 26-year-old Pole is a long-standing rally enthusiast who frequently drives in that format, and has suggested that he might take it up permanently once he has stopped competing in Formula One.