Formula One driver Robert Kubica has been injured in a rally car accident in Italy just weeks before the start of the new Grand Prix season, his Lotus-Renault team confirmed on Sunday.
The Pole, eighth in last year's F1 world championship, suffered multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand and now looks unlikely to race at Bahrain on March 13.
His team said in a statement that Kubica "suffered an accident at high speed this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally" and was airlifted to Pietra Ligure Hospital for surgery.
ANSA news agency said the 26-year-old Pole was 4.6kms from the start of the rally, near Genoa, when his car left the road and hit a wall. His co-driver, Jacub Gerber was unhurt, the Lotus-Renault team said.
"Robert is very strong and he will do [recover]," Daniele Morelli, Kubica's manager, added to reporters at the hospital.
Kubica was due to lead the Lotus-Renault team this season alongside Vitaly Petrov of Russia, with former HRT driver Bruno Senna named as a third driver. Romain Grosjean, who drove for Renault in 2009, was also named third driver alongside Senna.
It was not immediately known whether Senna or Grosjean would take Kubica's place in Bahrain should he fail to recover. Last week, Kubica closed Formula One's first test session of the season with the fastest time over three days in Valencia, Spain.
The next F1 test session is February 10-13 in Jerez, Spain.