Eric Boullier has fended off criticisms that Robert Kubica’s full-time employer should have forbidden the Pole from contesting the minor Ronde di Andora rally.
The 26-year-old is currently in an induced coma and recovering from seven hours of surgery after suffering multiple injuries including a partially-severed hand.
Dangerous activities like rally driving are usually forbidden in F1 driver contracts, and commentator and ex-racer Martin Brundle admitted on Twitter that he thought Kubica rallying between “key” F1 tests was “crazy”.
Well-known British freelance photographer Darren Heath added: “Is driving F1 not enough for Kubica? Utterly irresponsible to crash in a club rally. Can’t see Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton being so stupid.”
Another point of note is that the car Kubica crashed was a Skoda and not a Renault.
Indeed, last month, Renault had to play down rumours of a rift after issues sidelined Kubica from the famous Monte Carlo rally.
But team boss Boullier is quoted by the French news agency AFP: “This is nothing to do with business.
“Robert is allowed to do it because it is close to his heart. For him, rallying is vital, it is his balance. From that side, it’s a mutual agreement.
“We knew the risks as well,” added the Frenchman, with Boullier also quoted by ANSA agency as adding: “We don’t want a robot or corporate driver.”
Whatever the background, Kubica – still in a ‘serious’ condition – is facing at least a year of recovery time, hand surgeon Igor Rossello told reporters after the surgery.
“I don’t want to be too optimistic,” he is quoted by Sky Italia, “but we expect a good outcome.”
Kubica’s manager Daniele Morelli said the key question is whether the right hand will regain its functionality, but Rossello said some days will pass before it is sure that the hand “will survive”.
The surgeon did, however, express confidence that 26-year-old Kubica, who badly injured the same arm in a road car crash in 2003, will indeed be able to “resume his activity” in the future.
As ever, Niki Lauda’s assessment is the bluntest.
“Robert has the makings of a champion, if he can ever come back,” the triple world champion told Blick.
© RIF | GMM