Rivals unite to send Kubica 'get well' message

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The Independent Online

Formula One teams used their cars to send Robert Kubica a "get well soon" message yesterday as the Renault driver was moved out of intensive care four days after his crash during a rally in Italy.

The teams started the second pre-season test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain with the Polish message Szybkiego powrotu do zdrowia Robert ("Get Well Soon, Robert") displayed on their cars.

The website of the Formula One Teams Association also carried the message.

A team spokeswoman said the Pole, who suffered serious arm, leg and hand injuries when his car crashed on a minor rally near Genoa on Sunday, was expected to have further surgery today.

The 26-year-old underwent a seven-hour operation involving two teams of surgeons on Sunday to save his right hand and stabilise his condition.

Kubica, one of Formula One's brightest prospects and tipped as a champion of the future, has been ruled out for at least the first two months of the season and possibly all of it given the extent of the injury to his right hand.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld, without a drive since he left Sauber last year, has emerged as the frontrunner to replace him and will test for Lotus-Renault in Spain along with their official reserve driver, the Brazilian Bruno Senna. The Russian Vitaly Petrov, Kubica's regular team-mate, was testing yesterday.

Ferrari have renamed their new car in an effort to avoid a court battle with Ford. The Scuderia had named their new challenger the F150, which they will be hoping can guide Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa, who was fastest yesterday, to world championship glory in 2011, as a means of marking the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Ford claimed that this represented a trademark infringement as their F-150 truck is one of their best-selling models in the United States, with the American manufacturer reportedly filing court papers asking for Ferrari to be barred from using the name and seeking unspecified damages.

Ferrari have attempted to avoid a dispute by renaming their F1 car the F150th Italia, although the Italian marque insist they do not believe there was any confusion. A statement read: "The Maranello company wishes to point out that it has sent a letter of reply to Ford, underlining the fact that the F150 designation never has, nor ever will be used as the name of a commercially available product – there will definitely not be a production run."