Formula One Driver woken from coma after surgery following crash.
Lotus-Renault's Robert Kubica on long road to recovery
Robert Kubica's motorsport career remains in the balance despite encouraging progress in his recovery from serious injuries sustained at the weekend.
On Mondey, the Formula One driver was brought out of a coma induced after a seven-hour operation to save his right hand, which was partially severed in a huge accident on the Ronde di Andora Rally yesterday.
The 26-year-old Pole's condition was described as "much better" by his Lotus Renault F1 team.
Kubica was able to move his fingers on his damaged hand and communicate with members of his family, but has been placed under medication in order to sleep.
Doctors have warned, however, that it will be a further six days before it is known whether the operation to reconstruct his hand has been a success.
In the meantime, Kubica faces the prospect of further major surgery in the coming days, with doctors evaluating how best to treat fractures to the elbow and shoulder of his right arm. He also suffered fractures to his right leg, injuries which in themselves could take three to four months to heal.
Lotus Renault said in a statement: "Robert's general condition is much better.
"After spending the night under constant observation, he was briefly woken up by the doctors of the Santa Corona Hospital this morning. The Lotus Renault GP driver was then able to talk to his relatives. He was also able to move his fingers, which is encouraging for the rest of his recovery process.
"Professor Mario Igor Rossello, Director for the Regional Centre of Hand Surgery at San Paolo Hospital in Savona, did not notice any swelling or infection on his right forearm, and this is another good sign."
Yesterday's crash saw Kubica's Super 2000 Skoda Fabia collide with a crash barrier on the outside of a fast right-hand turn on the first special stage of the rally.
Early reports suggested Kubica's injuries were caused by a crash barrier penetrating the driver's footwell – a view supported by his co-driver Jakub Gerber, who was unhurt in the accident.
"After skidding, the car leaned against the guard rail and pushed it outwards. Then it crashed against the following guard rail," Gerber told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"The guard rail pierced through the car and went all the way through it.
"I immediately saw it was serious, he [Kubica] also had a bad bruise under his eye after hitting the steering wheel.
"Robert passed out and I exited through the window because the door was stuck."
Dr Giorgio Barabino, the head of the intensive care unit at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure, shed some more light on the extent of the trauma suffered by the Pole, saying that several transfusions were required to stabilise his condition due to significant blood loss.
"Things are going well considering that there was substantial damage," Dr Barabino said. "There were huge difficulties we faced and the necessary measures were taken immediately.
"Kubica lost a lot of blood, that is why the first hour was critical.
"He was unconscious and could not be operated on when he arrived at the hospital.
"He needed many transfusions during the stabilising process as well as during the very long surgery."
Lotus Renault team principal Eric Boullier has defended the decision to allow Kubica to contest a rally so close to the start of the new F1 season.
"Robert is a true racer, his life is motor racing," Boullier told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"It was agreed between us that he keep doing the rallies because it was part of his balance in his life.
"We knew the risks of doing the rally; he knew it as well. It was agreed together."
Boullier refused to rule Kubica out of the whole of the coming F1 season, despite the forecast of a year on the sidelines.
"He is definitely out for a couple of months. The recovery will be quicker than one year, but it is a bit early to know exactly how long he will need," he said.
The new F1 season gets under way in Bahrain on March 13 and Lotus Renault have a choice to make as to whether they turn to one of their reserve drivers to fill the void alongside Russia's Vitaly Petrov.
Bruno Senna, who raced for Hispania last year, and Romain Grosjean, who contested seven grands prix for Renault in 2009, are the men in the frame, although the team may yet seek a more experienced driver, with both Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi – both of whom are without a drive in 2011 – as likely candidates.