Robert Kubica has informed Renault that he can not commit to driving for the team in 2012 and will miss at least the opening races of next season.
The Pole, who suffered an horrific rallying accident back in February and severely injured his right arm and hand, has embarked on an intensive training programme, but feels that he needs more time to return to racing fitness.
Renault say they are fully committed to Kubica, with a test car and dedicated crew on standby should he feel ready to come back. They are also holding talks with the drivers’ management to renew his contract for 2013.
“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,” said Kubica, in a statement released by the team. “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% 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.”
Eric Boullier, the Renault team prinicpal, thanked Kubica for his honesty and said that the team will now select a driver to replace him for next season. It is thought that either Bruno Senna or Romain Grosjean will be chosen to partner Vitaly Petrov, who has a contract in place for next year.
“Everybody in the team is, of course, very disappointed today,” said Boullier. “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% 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.”