Formula One driver Robert Kubica is recovering in an Italian hospital following seven hours in the operating theatre after a high-speed crash in a rally event on Sunday morning.
The 26-year-old Pole spent the night of the operation in an induced coma, and was woken on Monday morning to speak with medical staff and family and friends. Kubica’s manager, Daniele Morelli, confirmed his condition had stabilised after the crash.
“He is suffering because of the lesions to his leg and arm but the brain activity is okay and we are certainly more relieved than with respect to 24 hours ago,” Mr Morelli told reporters.
“The doctors have said he has taken important steps forward.”
Kubica’s surgeon, hand specialist Prof Mario Igor Rossello, said the F1 driver would take a year to recover from his injuries, the most serious of which was his severed right hand.
“The hand is warm which means the surgery went well. It was a difficult operation,” Prof Rossello told the Press Association.
“We will need six days to verify if the blood circulation in the limb responds as it should do.”
Lotus Renault reserve driver Bruno Senna is expected to step up in place of Kubica in the 2011 Formula One World Championship, although rumours have been circulating that Team Principal, Eric Boullier, could be considering a more experienced driver like Nick Heidfeld or Kimi Raikkonen for the No. 9 car.
The crash has again raised the issue of whether Formula One teams should allow their drivers to participate in risky activities during the offseason.
Boullier told The Telegraph in the UK that rallying was very important to Kubica and was written into his contract to help him achieve a personal balance.
“We didn’t want a robot or a corporate man for a driver,” Boullier said. “[The clause in his contract] was agreed together.”
But three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart said teams were larger than individuals, and said hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in sponsorship were placed in jeopardy when the number one drivers were not out on the track.
“You’ve got to look after that investment,” Stewart said.
“It’s quite a challenge to stop drivers doing the things I believe are unwise leading up to a F1 season. Skiing is the one you would immediately think of.”
Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber famously broke his leg and his shoulder in two separate mountain bike accidents in 2008 and 2010.