Renault’s Robert Kubica injured in car crash

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GENOA, ITALY (AP) - Surgeons operating on Formula One driver Robert Kubica have turned their focus to his severely damaged right hand, which was among the serious injuries he sustained when his rally car hit a wall at “high speed” Sunday.

“The surgeons are trying to restore the functions of his right hand,” Italian news agency ANSA quoted Kubica’s manager, Daniel Morelli, as saying. “They have already revascularized the limb and repaired the bone structure.”

Morelli said that “Robert has strong character and he will make it,” according to ANSA.

He said the “clinical situation isn’t easy,” but denied that there was a risk of amputation.

“At this stage there is no such risk,” Morelli said outside the hospital. “We’re talking about the functionality.”

The 26-year-old Kubica “suffered a high-speed accident this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally,” the Pole’s Lotus Renault team said in a statement. He was “diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand. He is currently undergoing surgery at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure.”

The ANSA reported that the hand operation began after specialist Igor Rossello was called to the hospital.

The accident makes it unlikely Kubica will be on the grid for the start of the Grand Prix season in Bahrain on March 13. He was eighth in last year’s F1 world championship.

It was difficult to extract Kubica from the wreckage and it was about two hours before he arrived at the hospital, Roberto Carrozzino, a local health authority official, told Sky Italia.

The hospital in Pietra Ligure, a small coastal town about 35 miles southwest of Genoa, said it would have an update on Kubica’s condition later in the day.

ANSA said the driver was about 3 miles from the start of the rally when his car left the road and hit a wall. Co-driver Jakub Gerber was unhurt, the Lotus Renault team said.

“We were driving the first four kilometers of the first trial,” Gerber told ANSA. “I was looking at my notes and didn’t notice that the car skidded. Only after the moment of impact did I see that Robert was holding his arm and shortly afterward he lost conciousness.”

Kubica was due to lead the Lotus Renault F1 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 who would take Kubica’s place in Bahrain should he unable to drive.

Kubica walked away from a frightening accident at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, where his car went airborne into a concrete wall before somersaulting across the track in a shower of debris that left only the cockpit intact.

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