Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: Robert Kubica's Long F1 Goodbye
Here on Bleacher Report and on other F1 fan sites, Robert Kubica has an almost mythical status. He is often portrayed as the king across the water, and it is somehow implied that when he returns all will be right with the world; the blind will see, the lame will walk, and—most miraculous of all—Lotus-Renault might win races.
Dream on, Kubica fans, but the cold light of day can often make dreams seem pathetic.
In February, 2011, Kubica was driving to the start of the Ronde di Andora rally when his Skoda-based car left the road and struck a crash barrier. Part of the barrier penetrated the car's cockpit, as shown in the photo, and whilst his co-driver Jakub Gerber escaped unharmed, Kubica was severely injured.
Looking at the photo, we may be thankful that Kubica escaped with his life, but his injuries were calamitous enough, being described as "partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as significant loss of blood" (text from Wikipedia).
Has any F1 driver ever returned successfully after such serious injuries and a season (at least) out of the sport?
In terms of both mental preparedness and physical fitness, F1 makes demands on drivers that we mere fans can acknowledge but barely comprehend. When his edge has been dulled, a driver is cruelly exposed in a sport where tiny fractions of a second separate the stars from the also-rans.
After suffering a head injury at the Hungarian F1 GP in July 2009, Felipe Massa missed the rest of that season. He returned for the start of the 2010 season, but few would argue that he has been the same driver, and he has been totally overshadowed by his team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Everybody in the world of F1 must wish Robert Kubica well. We all love to see a guy make a comeback against the odds, but the odds against a surgically-reconstructed Kubica lengthen every day he is not in an F1 car.
As Lotus-Ranault and Kubica's management issue conflicting statements about his possible return, it seems to this writer that we are seeing the final and most difficult phase of Kubica's career—the long goodbye.
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