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Renault hunts for driver as Kubica continues slow recovery

ESPNF1 Staff
February 7, 2011 « Virgin takes the wraps off its 2011 car | »

Renault has succumbed to the inevitable and admitted it is now tracking down a replacement for Robert Kubica, who suffered severe arm injuries when he crashed at the Rally Ronde di Andora last weekend.

Kubica underwent seven hours of surgery on Sunday and on Monday morning was being brought out of a sedated sleep to talk to doctors and his family. The extent of the injuries to his right hand and arm are still unknown, but it now appears certain he will be out for the start of the season and possibly the whole year.

"The hand is warm and this means the operation went well," surgeon Mario Igor Rossello told reporters. "We need at least six days to check if the circulation of the blood in the limb responds as it should."

In a press release the team confirmed that Kubica can now moving his fingers, but said "it will be several days before it is known if the operation has been 100% successful". It added that he may have to undergo surgery again to treat his shoulder and elbow fractures in a few days time.

Meanwhile, Renault boss Eric Boullier, who said on Sunday it was too early to start thinking about a replacement, has admitted the team is now considering its options.

"Of course we have already started to think and work on a contingency plan," he told BBC Sport. "He is definitely out for a couple of months. I expect the recovery will be quicker than one year, but today it is a little bit too early to know how long it will take to recover."

Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are the team's most experienced reserve drivers, but the promotion to a race driver would be a big ask for either. Ex-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld is an obvious candidate and even 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has been tipped by some journalists. Raikkonen was in contact with the team last year, but later revealed, "I never seriously considered driving for Renault" and has since committed to another season in the World Rally Championship.

Whoever Renault appoints is likely to share the rest of pre-season testing with Vitaly Petrov, giving them just six days of experience in the new Renault R31 before the first race of the season in Bahrain.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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