NEWLY appointed president of Marussia Virgin Racing Graeme Lowdon has leapt to the defence of rivals Lotus Renault following Robert Kubica’s serious crash and insisted: “You can’t blame anybody.”
The 26-year-old Pole’s career remains in the balance despite encouraging progress in his recovery from injuries sustained on Sunday when his right hand was partially severed in an accident on the Ronde di Andora Rally.
An initial estimation from surgeon Professor Mario Igor Rossello, who was involved in the seven-and-a-half-hour operation to reconstruct Kubica’s hand, was that the driver faced a minimum of year out of Formula One.
The new F1 season gets under way in Bahrain on March 13 and Vitantonio Liuzzi, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are in the frame to replace Kubica, who finished eighth in the drivers’ standings in 2010.
Some critics have argued Renault should not have allowed Kubica to compete in the rally in the first place.
But Lowdon, who studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, told The Star: “We can’t wrap people up in cotton wool.
“Robert [Kubica] is a very rare talent and part of what makes him special is he is free to do what he wants. People don’t want robots.
“It was a horrible accident. I have seen the photographs. It is extremely unpleasant but people have road accidents all the time. You can’t blame anybody in that situation
“In my opinion, it would be unfair to level criticism at Renault. I don’t think you can blame the team or Robert. It is just one of those things.”
Kubica spent a portion of his early career at Manor Motorsport, which Marussia team principal John Booth founded from his own garage in Rotherham two decades ago.
Lowdon, who has been replaced as chief executive officer by Andy Webb, has wished Kubica a speedy recovery.
He said: “Robert is a world class driver. He topped the timesheets last week in Valencia. He is a very good bloke, a nice guy and everyone in the team sends their best wishes to him at a difficult time.
“Nobody wants to see someone with his talent not in an F1 car. I hope he is back in the paddock as quickly as possible.”
Senior Marussia driver Timo Glock, who tested for BMW Sauber alongside Kubica in 2007, said: “He will [have the determination to come back].
“He is just a fighter, he already had a big accident in a road car in F3 and he came back and won nearly the first race and put the car on pole position. I’m pretty sure if everything goes well he will be back.”
While Webb assumes the position of the CEO to focus on the executive management of Marussia, Lowdon’s new role will concentrate on the wide picture of the team’s place within the sport. He remains the team’s representative on the F1 Commission and FOTA Executive and also assumes the position of Sporting Director
“The management reshuffle is another big step forward for us,” said Lowdon, just 48 hours after Marussia unveiled their new MVR-02 race car. “The car has grown up and so has the management team.
“I now believe we have the platform to move forward.
“We will see how the car performs on track but in the boardroom we have got a good breadth of talent.”
At the launch of their car for the 2011 grand prix season, Marussia also confirmed they will compete under a different national flag, switching from a switching from a British to Russian licence.
They debuted under the Union Jack in 2010 but will don the Russian colours this year following Marussia Motors major financial investment.