Monday, 7 February 2011

F1 Update on Robert Kubica

Slightly better news from Italy... Robert's general condition is much better today...

After spending the night under constant observation, he was briefly woken up by the doctors of the Santa Corona Hospital (Pietra Ligure) 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, although it will be several days before it is known if the operation has been 100% successful.

In order to avoid any physical stress, Robert will be put under gentle medication in order to sleep for the next 24 hours at least. Meanwhile, the doctors will decide how they will treat his elbow and shoulder fractures. Robert may have to undergo surgery once again for this, but not for a few days.

Sometime soon, an accident investigation will try to establish how the car floor was pierced by a crash barrier.

Graham Benge

What now for Robert Kubica?

As we've previously reported, Lotus-Renault's likeable number one driver Robert Kubica is currently recovering in an Italian hospital following an horrific rallying accident yesterday when his Skoda Fabia left the road en route to a stage of the Ronde di Andora event.

Graham has already extended our best wishes to Robert & his family on behalf of us all at UKMT and I know that these sentiments are heartfelt as we all have a lot of time for the quietly-spoken Pole.

Whilst the reports following the extensive operation to stabilise Robert's condition are encouraging, and these are of course very early days, we do wonder whether he will ever again be fit for duty in the demanding world of Formula One, given the nature & extent of the injuries he sustained in his Super 2000 Fabia.

The top tier of open-wheeled motorsport is notoriously demanding on body & mind with even the comparatively-limited power and grip levels permitted under the current FIA regulations failing to slow the current crop of F1 cars by any huge margin. This may well prove to be problematic for Robert if he has been unfortunate enough to suffer a permanent impairment to his mobility levels, not to mention the requirement for drivers to be able to exit the cockpit of a stricken car within an FIA-mandated time in order to qualify for their Super Licence.

On the positive side though, F1 cars today do make life for their pilots somewhat less physically-demanding than those of even a few years ago with, for example, the standard fitment of paddle-operated gearshift & clutch as well as powered steering helping to alleviate some of the more arduous tasks drivers of yore had to contend with.

Add to this the example set by other drivers who have suffered terrible injuries in the past yet have been able to return to motor racing in the (helpfully modified) cockpit of a racing car & the outlook might not look quite so bleak..

Former F1 driver & Thoroughly Decent Chap (in our humble opinion) Alex Zanardi was amost killed whilst driving in CART in 2001 and lost both his lower legs following a huge accident at the Lausitzring in the September of that year.

Yet, whilst unable to resume his career in open-wheeled racing, following a long & painful period of rehabilitation Alex was able to return with no little success in Touring Cars before retiring from the sport in 2009.

Fellow Italian Sandro Nannini was another promising Formula One prospect whose career in the category was sadly ended following a helicopter crash which left him with a severed right arm in 1990. Encouragingly for Kubica who has also suffered partial severment of his right hand, surgery was successful enough to give Nannini back use of the arm and he went on to compete in both Touring Cars and the FIA GT Series as well as having an outing in the short-lived Grand Prix Masters as recently as 2007.

So, maybe some encouragement there for Robert and his team but of course the prime concern is that he makes as full and thorough a recovery from his devastating injuries as possible before even contemplating a return to any form of motorsport.

We shall of course be following his road to recovery with interest and will keep you posted with any further developments & thoughts that reach us here, especially in the short term regarding Robert's replacement for some, if not all of the 2011 F1 season - the name Senna on the side of a Lotus again..?


Anyway, in the meantime, here's to a speedy recovery and many more years of doing what he does best for one of the sport's nicer characters, Robert Kubica.

Dave Wakefield

F1 - Robert Kubica out for the season after massive rally crash

Robert Kubica underwent a seven-hour operation at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure this afternoon.

The Lotus Renault GP driver had been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm and leg following a high-speed accident at the Ronda de Andora rally this morning. He also suffered severe cuts to his forearm, which could have an impact on his right hand mobility. Doctors are reasonably satisfied with the way the operation went.

Tonight, Robert's condition remains stable but serious. He has been placed into an induced coma and could be woken up in the morning.

Professor Mario Igor Rossello, Director for the Regional Centre of Hand Surgery at San Paolo Hospital in Savona: "It has been a very important and difficult operation. Robert Kubica's right forearm was cut in two places, with significant lesions to the bones and the tendons. We did our best to rebuild the functions of the forearm. It took seven doctors, split into two teams and a total of seven hours to complete the operation. One team was the emergency task force from the hospital of San Paolo (Savona) that is normally appointed to treat this sort of injury, while the other team came from the orthopaedic department of the Santa Corona Hospital (Pietra Ligure). At the end of the operation, Robert's hand was well vascularised and warm, which is encouraging. Following the surgery, Robert Kubica will remain under permanent monitoring overnight because his condition remains serious."

Graham Benge

Sunday, 6 February 2011

F1 Award for Tony Fernandes

Tony Fernandes has been awarded a CBE by Queen Elizabeth II

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 6th February 2011

Tony Fernandes, Team Lotus Team Principal, AirAsia Group CEO and Malaysia's iconic entrepreneur, has been awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The citation says the award was conferred "for services to promote commercial and educational links" between the United Kingdom and Malaysia.

Congrats from all at UKMT!!

Graham Benge

F1 -Robert Kubica injured in rally car


After undergoing extensive medical checks this morning, Robert Kubica has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand. He is currently undergoing surgery at the Santa Corona Hospital in Pietra Ligure. Robert suffered a high-speed accident this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally. All at UKMT wish the popular Robert a speedy recovery.

Graham Benge

Friday, 4 February 2011

F1 - wheels within wheels

So the launches and the first round of testing in less than sunny Valencia are ended and next week the circus gets down to more serious set up work in Jerez, the sunnier end of Spain. With the new McLaren the very last to appear - today - what do we know so far. The new cars are all longer - due to the need to add the packaging for the new KERS systems, taller due to the need to improve the airflow to the new driver adjustable rear wing and have more complex aerodynamics everywhere for the same reason, especially the "up periscope" sides on the McLaren.

Aside from the usual set up niggles for most of the teams, hydraulic failures, overheating, etc etc the new Pirelli tyres have so far been a major talking point the consensus view is that changes to the compounds may still be necessary, the super softs are barely lasting one lap, the softs are graining rapidly whereas the medium compound is both quick and durable and a useful baseline for the engineers and drivers.

The other major discussion - nay, grumble - among the drivers is how busy they are in the cockpit and how the new steering wheels are just too complex, take last years £30-40,000 wheel and add at least two more constantly monitored buttons for KERS and the rear wing and you hugely increase the drivers work rate. Some team bosses seem to be saying tough, get on with it, that's what we pay you for, some smarter managers might already realise the 2011 championship could just be won or lost on the ergonomics of the steering wheel.

Graham Benge