Rome: Doctors treating Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica, who was seriously injured in a high-speed rally crash at the weekend, said it would take at least six days to ascertain how permanent is the damage to his right hand.
The 26-year-old Lotus Renault driver was at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia, taking part in the Ronde di Andora Rally in Liguria in the north-west of Italy, when his vehicle left the road and crashed into a church wall.
He was airlifted to the Santa Corona hospital in nearby Pietra Ligure where he underwent seven hours of surgery for multiple injuries, the worst of which was to his right hand which was partially severed by a metal railing.
"We will need at least six days to verify if the blood is properly circulating in the hand," said Professor Mario Igor Rossello, the surgeon who led the operation team.
"His hand is warm which indicates that the operation went well and all being well it will take him a year of re-education to recover the full movement in it."
However, later on Monday there was more reassuring news on his condition as he was able to move the fingers on his right hand.
"Moving his fingers, added to his general state of health, is what reassures us the most," said Rossello.
"He is conscious and continues to be sedated for the pain."
Flavio Briatore, his flamboyant former manager at Renault, visited the Polish star during the afternoon and said he had been relieved the state his friend was in.
"Given the medical bulletins, I thought he was in form. He is lucid, and even shared a joke. He is a fantastic fellow, a real war machine, and I am sure he will come back quickly." Kubica is reported to have taken a bend at speed when he lost control and hit a guard rail which broke down the drivers' door and bent the roll-bar.
His co-driver, Jacub Gerber, emerged from the wreck unhurt but Kubica remained inside until emergency services removed him from the wreckage.
A statement issued Monday on the Lotus Renault website said: "Robert's general condition is much better today.
"The Lotus Renault GP driver was able to talk to his relatives.
"Professor Rossello did not notice any swelling or infection on his right forearm, and this is another good sign, although it will be several days before it is known if the operation has been 100 percent successful.
"In order to avoid any physical stress, Robert will be put under gentle medication in order to sleep for the next 24 hours at least.
"Meanwhile, the doctors will decide how they will treat his elbow and shoulder fractures. Robert may have to undergo surgery once again for this, but not for a few days."
Team principal Eric Boullier defended the decision to let Kubica drive in a rally just weeks before the start of the new Grand Prix season in Bahrain on March 13.
"Robert is a true racer, his life is motor racing," Boullier told BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday. "It was agreed between us that he keep doing the rallies because it was part of his balance in his life. We knew the risks of doing the rally; he knew it as well. It was agreed together."
Lotus Renault reserve driver Bruno Senna, nephew of the late three-times F1 world champion Ayrton Senna, is in line to replace Kubica in Bahrain although the team also have test driver Romain Grosjean in their ranks.
The rally accident was not the first time Kubica has been involved in a horror crash, after he hit a wall at 300kph during the Canadian Grand Prix in 2007.
Driving for Sauber, Kubica slid off the circuit and crashed into a wall, before rebounding across the track in a barrel roll and hitting another barrier.
Kubica, however, was not seriously injured, sustaining nothing more serious than a sprained ankle and slight concussion. He missed only one Grand Prix after the incident.