Formula One team Renault has confirmed Robert Kubica will miss at least the early part of the 2012 season as he struggles to recover from serious injuries sustained in a rally crash early this year.
Renault had been hoping Kubica would be fit to resume his role as the team's No. 1 driver from the start of 2012 but said Wednesday that he will not be ready to do so.
"Everybody in the team is, of course, very disappointed today (Wednesday)," Renault team principal Eric Boullier said in a statement. "Robert not driving in Australia at the start of next season is not what we were all hoping for. However, he has taken a very mature decision, acting in the best interests of Lotus Renault GP."
The team said a 2012 preparation program of "simulator testing, single-seater and F1 track time" was being designed for Kubica for when he is ready to resume and that there were ongoing talks about extending his contract.
Renault said it would talk to "a few drivers" as it assesses its options for next season, with current drivers Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna and test driver Romain Grosjean considered to be the leading candidates for the race seats.
Kubica sustained life-threatening injuries in a crash in the Ronde di Andora rally in Italy on February 6. He suffered massive injuries to the right side of his body, almost severing his forearm, and with fractures to his leg and shoulder.
Renault said he can walk freely and has regained movement in his elbow and hand, but will need more rehabilitation work to get himself up to the high levels of fitness required for F1.
"Even if I've been working very, very hard over the course of the last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that I am not yet certain to be ready for the 2012 season," Kubica said. "I have called the team and I have informed them of the situation.
"This was a difficult decision to make, but it is the most reasonable one. I also know that (the team) need to prepare for next year, and further extending deadlines would not have been the right thing to do."
Kubica said his recovery has been "very encouraging and my doctors keep being impressed," but also described this year's events as "the most difficult period of my life."
The final race of the 2011 season will be this weekend in Brazil.
Preseason testing begins in earnest in Jerez, Spain in February. The opening 2012 race is in Melbourne, Australia on March 18.