F1 driver Kubica fights to regain full use of hand

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Associated Press

Posted on February 6, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 7 at 3:06 AM

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Robert Kubica will need up to a year to regain full use of his right hand, according to the surgeon who operated on the Formula One driver after his rally car accident on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Kubica spent seven hours in surgery after suffering serious injuries in a high-speed crash on Sunday morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally.

Kubica's Lotus Renault team said doctors were "reasonably satisfied" with how the operation went, and the driver is in a serious but stable condition in an induced coma. He is expected to be woken Monday morning.

Lead surgeon Igor Rossello, a hand specialist, said it would take "about a year" for Kubica to recover functionality in his badly damaged right hand.

"It has been a very important and difficult operation," Rossello said in a team statement. "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.

"At the end of the operation, Robert's hand was well vascularised and warm, which is encouraging."

Rossello said he expected the driver to recover "enough functionality for him to resume his activity."

"It was a very complicated procedure and there was the risk he would lose his hand," Rossello told Sky Italia, adding that the surgery team had worked on "setting the bones and reattaching veins, tendons and muscles."

Rossello said, however, it will take a few more days to understand the full extent of the injury. He said Kubica had lost a lot of blood before arriving in the operating room.

Kubica injured the same arm in a road accident in 2003 when he had titanium bolts inserted to support the bones.

Despite the positive outcome of Sunday's surgery, the Polish driver appears highly unlikely to be able to race for his Lotus Renault team this year. The new season begins March 13 in Bahrain.

Kubica was taken to Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure after suffering multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand in a collision.

Fellow F1 driver Fernando Alonso of Ferrari reportedly paid a brief visit to the hospital later on Sunday.

Lotus Renault team principal Eric Boullier said he would travel to Italy on Monday with Kubica's teammate Vitaly Petrov to visit Kubica and "tell him that we are impatiently waiting for his return."

"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," he said.

In the aftermath of the crash, local health authority official Roberto Carrozzino told Sky Italia that Kubica's life was not in danger but that it was "a very delicate situation."

Carrozzino said it had taken two hours for Kubica to arrive at the hospital in Pietra Ligure, a small coastal town about 35 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Genoa, because it was difficult to extract him from the wreckage of his car.

ANSA said Kubica was 4.6 kilometers from the start of the rally, near Genoa, when his Skoda Fabia left the road and hit a wall. His co-driver Jakub Gerber was unhurt.

"We were driving the first four kilometers of the first trial," Gerber told ANSA. "I was looking at my notes and didn't notice that the car skidded. Only after the moment of impact did I see that Robert was holding his arm and shortly afterward he lost consciousness."

Kubica is widely regarded as one of F1's most talented drivers and collected 136 points last season to finish a creditable eighth in the drivers' standings.

Last week, Kubica closed Formula One's first test session of the season with the fastest time over three days in Valencia, Spain. He had been due to lead the Lotus Renault F1 team this season alongside Petrov of Russia.

Former HRT driver Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean, who drove for Renault in 2009, are the reserve drivers for Renault.

It was not immediately known whether Senna or Grosjean would take Kubica's place in Bahrain should he fail to recover.

The next F1 test session is Feb. 10-13 in Jerez, Spain.

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire in Paris and Associated Press Writer Alessandra Rizzo in Rome contributed to this report.

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