GENOA, Italy – Formula One driver Robert Kubica was brought out of an induced coma Monday and moved his fingers after surgery for serious injuries he suffered in a rally car crash.
The 26-year-old Polish driver will likely need further surgery to his elbow and shoulder, his Lotus Renault team said.
Kubica had seven hours of surgery Sunday after the high-speed crash in northern Italy. His right hand was badly damaged and surgeons averted the risk of amputation.
"The movement of the finger, combined with the general health conditions of the patient, is encouraging," Dr. Giorgio Barabino, head of the intensive care unit at the Santa Corona hospital, told the ANSA news agency.
"Kubica is conscious. He talks and understands what has happened. The first thing he thought about was his co-driver, and was informed about his condition."
Co-driver Jakub Gerber was unhurt.
Kubica's manager, Daniel Morelli, said he spoke to the driver, who was "perfectly conscious" and whose "brain activity is normal," given the situation.
"In this moment, I feel extremely relieved compared to 24 hours ago," Morelli said. "The improvement that he has made, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the specialists, is of great significance, and this makes us hopeful for the future."
Former Renault general manager Flavio Briatore visited Kubica and said he was surprised at his progress.
"He looked wonderful. The spirit is good. The guy is very strong; he is super strong," Briatore said.
Kubica's Skoda Fabia went off the road and hit a wall when he was a few miles away from the start of the Ronde di Andora Rally.
He was airlifted to the hospital, and a medical bulletin released Monday said the clinical situation was "of the utmost gravity" when Kubica arrived there. The bulletin said the abdominal and thoracic organs had been moderately compromised, while there was no evidence of significant brain alteration.
"Things are going well considering that there was substantial damage," Barabino said. "Kubica lost a lot of blood. That is why the first hour was critical."
Surgeon Igor Rossello said Kubica's right hand was warm Monday, which he said was a good sign. The surgeon said it would take five or six more days to see if the hand was healing properly.
Kubica spent the night in intensive care and was woken from the induced coma in the morning.
"The patient spent (the) night in good condition," Rossello told reporters outside of the hospital. "The condition has stabilized."
Rossello had estimated that it would take about a year for Kubica to recover functionality in his right hand.
The Lotus Renault team said Kubica's condition was "much better" and that he was able to speak to his relatives and move his fingers. The team said Rossello did not notice any swelling or infection on his right forearm, another positive sign.
"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," the team said in a statement. "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."
Kubica is likely to miss most or all of the 2011 F1 season, which opens with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 13.