Renault’s Robert Kubica is expected to miss the beginning of the 2011 Formula 1 season after suffering serious injuries in a crash at a rally in Italy.  Kubica’s car was involved in a freak collision with a church wall at high speed as the 26-year-old was en route to the start of the Rallye Ronde di Andora.

The Renault F1 driver was eventually cut free from the wreckage once the necessary extraction equipment had reached his remote location reportedly an hour after the incident, and was airlifted to the Santa Corona hospital in the coastal town of Pietra Ligure, near Genoa, for medical assessment.

An initial statement from Renault confirmed that Kubica remained conscious throughout the ordeal and his co-driver Jakub Gerber escaped from the collision unharmed while wild speculation poured through on Twitter as to the extent of the injuries.

A later statement from Renault read: “After extensive medical checks, Robert has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his right arm, leg and hand. He is undergoing surgery.”

Kubica is no stranger to rallies away from his F1 career and on this occasion was driving the Skoda Fabia S2000.

Kubica recently topped timesheets in Valencia ahead of the opening race of the season in Bahrain on 13 March but at present it is not known how long the Pole will be out of action.

Renault will likely call upon former Hispania Racing Team driver Bruno Senna to drive alongside Vitaly Petrov as the most experienced driver in their line-up, while Romain Grosjean who is also competing in the GP2 Series this year, would be the team’s primary reserve and test driver.

With the season not yet under way and the extent of Senna’s F1 career being only one season running at the back of the grid with Hispania, Renault could look to offer a deal to the unattached former Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld, or even Force India’s test driver Nico Hülkenberg who raced for Williams last season.

An update from the hospital on Sunday afternoon revealed that the operation on Kubica would continue until the evening and although amputation of the hand had been ruled out, it was too early to give a prognosis on how well the hand would recover from the injuries it suffered.

It was also confirmed that Kubica was out of immediate danger, and there was no threat to his life.