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F1: Kubica Set For Long Recovery, Pressure Applied By Ricciardo 'Normal' Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Feb, 08 2011 | 1 Comment

Robert Kubica's career is in the balance, and his 2011 season almost certainly over, after his severe rally crash on Sunday.

Also with right leg fractures reportedly caused by armco barriers piercing the car, the Pole underwent seven hours of surgery conducted by seven doctors in Italy with the main focus being efforts to save his badly damaged right arm and partially-severed hand.

"He [...] suffered severe cuts to his forearm, which could have an impact on his right hand mobility," confirmed his F1 employer Renault.

The statement said doctors are "reasonably satisfied" after the surgery, but 26-year-old Kubica remains in a serious condition in an induced coma.

"It has been a very important and difficult operation," said hand surgeon Mario Ignor Rossello.

"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," he added.

When asked by reporters about what the future holds for Kubica, he answered: "We will see in the next days what will happen.

"The danger is that in five or seven days we have vascular problems. He could have surgery again to resolve the problems."

It has been suggested that Kubica will take at least a year to recover, but Rossello insisted: "Drivers are always very special patients. I have a lot of motorbike patients and they heal in the fastest way possible, much faster than normal people."

It is believed Kubica's friend Fernando Alonso has already visited him in hospital.

Among the candidates to replace Kubica in 2011 are team reserves Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean, new Force India third driver Nico Hulkenberg, Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli and the out-of-work Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi.



'Too Early' To Consider Kubica Replacement

It is "too early" to be publicly considering a replacement for the badly injured Robert Kubica.

That is the claim of the Pole's Renault team boss Eric Boullier, who was speaking just hours after Kubica emerged from surgery in an induced coma after sustaining multiple injuries including a partially severed hand in a rally crash on Sunday.

The surgeon said Kubica's injuries are likely to take at least a year to heal, which leaves Lotus-sponsored Renault in a bind after producing a new car for 2011 in which Kubica drove to the fastest time in its maiden test last week.

At the R31's launch one week ago, the team's new third driver Bruno Senna joked that if Kubica or Vitaly Petrov "break a leg or something like that, then ... they know who is going to replace him".

Another candidate is Senna's fellow third driver Romain Grosjean, but as Telegraph writer Tom Cary points out, Petrov "has only one season's worth of experience".

"Can Renault afford to make the Russian their lead driver and promote one of their reserves to the second race seat? Or do Renault try to replace Kubica with another experienced driver?" wondered Cary.

Among the earliest candidates in that scenario are new Force India third driver Nico Hulkenberg, Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli, Pirelli tester Pedro de la Rosa and the out-of-work Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

And Cary continued: "Even Kimi Raikkonen('s name) ... (was) being bandied about last night."

Team boss Boullier is travelling with Petrov to Italy on Monday to visit Kubica.

"It is too early and impolite to think of a replacement driver. We are waiting for news of Robert and how long he will be out of action before we think of taking such a decision," he is quoted by AFP news agency.



Pressure Applied By Ricciardo 'Normal': Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari insists he has no problem with new Friday driver Daniel Ricciardo breathing down the necks of Toro Rosso's regular racers in 2011.

Australian Ricciardo is the new cream of Red Bull's young driver programme and next in line to take a Toro Rosso to the grid.

In 2011, the 21-year-old will switch between Alguersuari and teammate Sebastien Buemi's race cars in the Friday morning practice sessions, but Spaniard Alguersuari insists he fully accepts the situation.

"His appointment is a very good confirmation of the operation of the Red Bull junior team," said 20-year-old Alguersuari.

"Without this programme and the determination of Dr Helmut Marko, I would not be in Formula One," he is quoted by France's autohebdo.fr.

Marko's driver development scheme has gained a reputation over the years for being particularly cut-throat, but Alguersuari has only praise.

"Sure, but that's what the Red Bull programme has taught us. For us there is nothing more normal than to see Ricciardo, Buemi, Vettel or myself do our best without worrying about the others," he insisted.

Alguersuari therefore wishes Ricciardo all the best for 2011.

"His participation in the Friday practices will be a great experience for him, because he will be sharing information with me and Buemi and it will make him a better driver and a serious candidate for a place at Toro Rosso in the future," he said.

Using a football analogy, Alguersuari contrasted Red Bull's approach to drivers with Ferrari's.

"Red Bull is like Barcelona, building its drivers from when they are 15 and turning them into champions," he is quoted by Diario AS in Spain.

"Ferrari is more like Real Madrid, buying the most expensive players in the market."

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