NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Ferrari have cast doubt on Robert Kubica ever returning from injury to Formula One after recognising they had been interested in signing the Pole to race alongside Fernando Alonso.
Kubica suffered a near-fatal rally crash before the start of the 2011 season and said only last April that he would “pay all the money I have to be back in the cockpit of a Formula One car”.
A race winner with BMW-Sauber, and a contender with Renault, the Pole has raced a specially-modified Citroen in the world rally championship and has also been in the Mercedes Formula One simulator.
However, he has struggled to regain the necessary movement in his wrist, after his forearm was partially severed in the accident, for single-seater racing.
“Yes, we were keeping an eye on him,” Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali told the team website (www.ferrari.com) on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It’s a shame.”
Domenicali, interviewed by two Italian fans in a meeting arranged by the Gazzetta Dello Sport newspaper at the Ferrari factory, also spoke of Alonso’s relationship with the team.
The Spaniard, a double champion with Renault, has been critical of Ferrari’s performance and was publicly reprimanded by Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo in July.
“If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner,” said Domenicali when asked why Alonso was allowed to be so critical.
“But externally, I will always defend the team. When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I,” he added.
The principal defended the use of team orders in favour of Alonso and also the team’s decision to retain Brazilian Felipe Massa this season despite his dip in performance.
Massa is leaving at the end of the year to make way for the team’s returning 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.
“If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear, but in 2008 he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion,” said Domenicali.
“We took Raikkonen because we wanted more. When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well.”
The Italian did not rule out Ferrari one day having an Italian driver in its line-up, despite a notable aversion to that over the years. Italy currently has no Formula One drivers despite the passion for the sport’s most successful team.
“We feel this responsibility, so we created the Academy for youngsters. With Antonio Fuoco and Raffaele Marciello, in whom we are investing, this year we have won two championships,” said Domenicali.
“Will they drive a Ferrari one day? I hope so. But we need to find the right categories to get there.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar