As we’ve previously reported, Lotus-Renault’s likeable number one driver Robert Kubica is currently recovering in an Italian hospital following an horrific rallying accident yesterday when his Skoda Fabia left the road en route to a stage of the Ronde di Andora event.
Graham has already extended our best wishes to Robert & his family on behalf of us all at UKMT and I know that these sentiments are heartfelt as we all have a lot of time for the quietly-spoken Pole.
Whilst the reports following the extensive operation to stabilise Robert’s condition are encouraging, and these are of course very early days, we do wonder whether he will ever again be fit for duty in the demanding world of Formula One, given the nature & extent of the injuries he sustained in his Super 2000 Fabia.
The top tier of open-wheeled motorsport is notoriously demanding on body & mind with even the comparatively-limited power and grip levels permitted under the current FIA regulations failing to slow the current crop of F1 cars by any huge margin. This may well prove to be problematic for Robert if he has been unfortunate enough to suffer a permanent impairment to his mobility levels, not to mention the requirement for drivers to be able to exit the cockpit of a stricken car within an FIA-mandated time in order to qualify for their Super Licence.
On the positive side though, F1 cars today do make life for their pilots somewhat less physically-demanding than those of even a few years ago with, for example, the standard fitment of paddle-operated gearshift & clutch as well as powered steering helping to alleviate some of the more arduous tasks drivers of yore had to contend with.
Add to this the example set by other drivers who have suffered terrible injuries in the past yet have been able to return to motor racing in the (helpfully modified) cockpit of a racing car & the outlook might not look quite so bleak..
Former F1 driver & Thoroughly Decent Chap (in our humble opinion) Alex Zanardi was amost killed whilst driving in CART in 2001 and lost both his lower legs following a huge accident at the Lausitzring in the September of that year.
Yet, whilst unable to resume his career in open-wheeled racing, following a long & painful period of rehabilitation Alex was able to return with no little success in Touring Cars before retiring from the sport in 2009.
Fellow Italian Sandro Nannini was another promising Formula One prospect whose career in the category was sadly ended following a helicopter crash which left him with a severed right arm in 1990. Encouragingly for Kubica who has also suffered partial severment of his right hand, surgery was successful enough to give Nannini back use of the arm and he went on to compete in both Touring Cars and the FIA GT Series as well as having an outing in the short-lived Grand Prix Masters as recently as 2007.
So, maybe some encouragement there for Robert and his team but of course the prime concern is that he makes as full and thorough a recovery from his devastating injuries as possible before even contemplating a return to any form of motorsport.
We shall of course be following his road to recovery with interest and will keep you posted with any further developments & thoughts that reach us here, especially in the short term regarding Robert’s replacement for some, if not all of the 2011 F1 season – the name Senna on the side of a Lotus again..?
Anyway, in the meantime, here’s to a speedy recovery and many more years of doing what he does best for one of the sport’s nicer characters, Robert Kubica.