Renault team co-owner Gerard Lopez says that although Robert Kubica is facing a “tough battle”, he is hopeful that the Polish driver will return to F1.
Kubica has been out of action since early February when he suffered life-threatening injuries in a rally accident.
His right-hand was partially severed in the crash when he hit a safety barrier and had to be cut free from his car and he also suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and leg.
The Pole’s recovery is reportedly progressing well with Kubica revealing he hopes to return to Formula One next season.
And he’s not the only member of the Renault squad who wants to see him back behind the wheel of a F1 car.
“I think it’s going well,” Lopez told ESPNF1 when asked about Kubica’s rehabilitation. “Obviously it’s a tough battle for him but if anybody can come back it’s him. Unfortunately it’s not Robert’s first big accident.
“We know about his mental strength but we’ll have to see how long the physical side will recover. I think he’s going to be okay and hopefully we’ll see him in a Formula One car again although I don’t think that will happen this season.
“I’m sure he has regrets at rallying but that doesn’t do anything for you, it’s all about focusing on coming back.”
With Kubica out injured, Renault drafted in the experienced Nick Heidfeld as his replacement.
But despite starting the campaign with a podium finish in Malaysia, the German has failed to live up to expectations.
“I’m happy with Nick’s pre-season in terms of helping develop the car and the complications that come with that. I’m happy with his first part of the season but not totally happy with his leadership and performing within the team,” Lopez said.
“We brought Nick in because he’s a much more experienced driver than Vitaly and he did a very good job with the podium in Malaysia but he has not consistently been what we would want from an experienced driver like him.”
Lopez, though, is at least happier with Heidfeld’s team-mate, Vitaly Petrov.
“Vitaly is maturing exactly the way we expected him to and except for a couple of bad races his performances have been pretty consistent and he has qualified in the top ten pretty much everywhere except for two races and scored a podium in the first race.
“He’s only one and a half seasons into Formula One and with him we still expect some important growth. He has shown that he still has quite a way to go and has quite a bit in him still in terms of race craft, managing traffic and so on. But that comes with experience and I think he can add a couple of notches to where he should be.”