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‘Too early’ to consider Kubica replacement – Boullier

It is “too early” to be publicly considering a replacement for the badly injured Robert Kubica.

That is the claim of the Pole’s Renault team boss Eric Boullier, who was speaking just hours after Kubica emerged from surgery in an induced coma after sustaining multiple injuries including a partially severed hand in a rally crash on Sunday.

The surgeon said Kubica’s injuries are likely to take at least a year to heal, which leaves Lotus-sponsored Renault in a bind after producing a new car for 2011 in which Kubica drove to the fastest time in its maiden test last week.

At the R31’s launch one week ago, the team’s new third driver Bruno Senna joked that if Kubica or Vitaly Petrov “break a leg or something like that, then … they know who is going to replace him”.

Another candidate is Senna’s fellow third driver Romain Grosjean, but as Telegraph writer Tom Cary points out, Petrov “has only one season’s worth of experience”.

“Can Renault afford to make the Russian their lead driver and promote one of their reserves to the second race seat?  Or do Renault try to replace Kubica with another experienced driver?” wondered Cary.

Among the earliest candidates in that scenario are new Force India third driver Nico Hulkenberg, Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli, Pirelli tester Pedro de la Rosa and the out-of-work Nick Heidfeld and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

And Cary continued: “Even Kimi Raikkonen(‘s name) … (was) being bandied about last night.”

Team boss Boullier is travelling with Petrov to Italy on Monday to visit Kubica.

“It is too early and impolite to think of a replacement driver.  We are waiting for news of Robert and how long he will be out of action before we think of taking such a decision,” he is quoted by AFP news agency.