Robert Kubica to miss the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season
Robert Kubica tells Renault he won't return to the sport in time for the start of 2012 season as he continues to recover from crash
Injured Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica has informed his Renault team that he will not be fit for the start of the 2012 season.
The Pole suffered horrendous injuries in a rally crash in February just weeks before the start of the 2011 season, but despite an intensive rehabilitation programme, the new season will be too early for him to commit to driving in the 2012 championship.
Although Kubica can now walk freely, and move his hand and elbow, the 26-year-old feels he needs more time to return to full fitness to tackle the demands of driving an F1 car.
Admirably, Renault have stood by their driver, who was not racing for the team when he suffered the crash in northern Italy. Team principal Eric Boullier will again have to find a stand-in driver to partner Vitaly Petrov as they await Kubica’s comeback.
“Even if I’ve been working very, very hard over the course of the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season,” Kubica said.
“I have called the team and I have informed them of the situation. This was a difficult decision to make, but it is the most reasonable one. I also know that LRGP need to prepare for next year, and further extending deadlines would not have been the right thing to do.
“On a personal level, my recovery is still very encouraging and my doctors keep being impressed. I just need more time, as I want to be 100 per cent ready before I commit to anything driving related.
“Finally, I regret not having been able to provide more news and not having appeared in the papers, and I thank my friends of the media for understanding that this has been the best way for me to cope with what has been the most difficult period of my life.”
The news comes as no surprise, with Bouiller already understood to be considering several drivers to partner Petrov next season, including Bruno Senna, who will finish the season with the team at his home race in Interlagos at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Reserve driver and GP2 champion Romain Grosjean is tipped to return to the Renault cockpit next season, but for how long depends on how quickly Kubica can return – and if he can still perform in an F1 car.
Renault, who are expected to change the team name to Lotus for 2012, are committed to Kubica, with a test car and dedicated crew standing by, while contract negotiations are already under way for 2013.
Boullier said: “Everybody in the team is, of course, very disappointed today. Robert not driving in Australia at the start of next season is not what we were all hoping for. However, he has taken a very mature decision, acting in the best interests of Lotus Renault GP.
“As a team and as a family, we remain 100 per cent behind him and we’ll help as much as we can. A programme composed of simulator testing, single-seater and F1 track time is awaiting him. In the meantime, we will start talking to a few drivers in order to finalise our line-up for next year as soon as possible.
“Robert will take it step by step and will jump back in his racing car when he feels it is the right moment to do so. On behalf of all 520 members of the team, I wish him a speedy recovery.”
The Enstone-based team struggled to replace the former BMW driver this season, with Nick Heidfeld initially selected as his replacement. However, inconsistent performances prompted Boullier to look elsewhere, with Senna given the chance to showcase his talents despite previously only driving for struggling Spanish outfit HRT.