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Renault encouraged by Robert Kubica recovery

Robert Kubica is already turning his thoughts to a Formula One comeback as he awaits further surgery on Thursday following his horrific crash in Italy.

Lotus Renault today said their driver's ongoing recovery was "encouraging" 48 hours after undergoing seven hours of surgery on his partially severed right hand, sustained in a crash in the Sunday's Ronde di Ancora rally.

The Pole was today conscious and stable in intensive care in the Santa Corona Hospital in northern Italy, but faces at least two further operations on additional fractures sustained to his arms and legs.

A statement on http://www.lotusrenaultgp.com read: "Today, Robert's general condition has once again improved.

"According to the doctors, the levels of inflammation are in the norm considering his medical condition, and the recovery of his forearm remains encouraging.

"Yesterday, Robert was able to talk to his doctors and relatives. His medication makes him sleep quite a lot, but he is responding to all external stimulation.

"He has reacted well to the news about his condition and is ready to fight for his comeback.

"On Thursday, Robert should undergo some more surgery in order to stabilise the fractures to his right shoulder and right foot.

"Three or four days later, another operation will allow his elbow fracture to be stabilised as well.

"Robert will remain at the Santa Corona Hospital for two to three weeks.

"A decision will then be taken about where he should go in order to continue his rehabilitation."

The statement tallied with an earlier report from hospital doctors, who were encouraged by Kubica's progress.

Doctor Giorgio Barabino, head of the intensive care unit at the Santa Corona, said today: "The patient is responding positively to therapy.

"He is conscious and his condition is stable."

The 26-year-old will have to wait until the weekend to find out if surgery on his right arm was successful.

An initial estimation from surgeon Professor Mario Igor Rossello, who was involved in the operation to reconstruct Kubica's hand, was that the 26-year-old faced a year out of Formula One, although Lotus Renault team principal Eric Boullier later expressed hope of a quicker return.

The new F1 season gets under way in Bahrain on March 13 and the team have a choice to make as to whether they turn to one of their reserve drivers to fill the void alongside Russia's Vitaly Petrov.

Bruno Senna, who raced for Hispania last year, and Romain Grosjean, who contested seven grands prix for Renault in 2009, are the men in the frame although the team may yet seek a more experienced head, with both Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi - both of whom are without a drive in 2011 - likely candidates.

Liuzzi, though, said after visiting the Santa Corona hospital: "A lot of people talked about this: not the team, but a lot of journalists.

"Personally, at the moment I think Robert's health is the first thing.

"Then, it's obvious that when Renault are sure that Robert won't be able to step in the car, this chance might be open and I hope to be chosen instead of somebody else.

"But, again, at the moment Robert's health is the priority."

Kubica was yesterday brought out of a coma induced after the operation.

He was able to move his fingers on his damaged hand and communicate with members of his family, before being placed under medication in order to sleep for at least the next 24 hours.

Doctors warned, however, it would be a further six days before it is known whether the operation to reconstruct his hand has been a success.

Liuzzi, speaking to 422race.com, said of his visit: "I didn't see him personally. But I spoke to the doctors, his manager and Dr Ceccarelli (Lotus Renault GP's doctor): the people who are closest to him and who saw him.

"It seems that everything is going the right way and he is recovering right.

"For sure the first four to five days will be the most critical ones, but at the moment everything seems to go well."

Sunday's crash saw Kubica's Super 2000 Skoda Fabia collide with a crash barrier on the outside of a fast right-hand turn on the first special stage of the rally.