Formula One driver Robert Kubica will be out for at least two months after his horror crash in a rally and doctors' predictions he could take a year to recover are overly cautious, Renault's team boss said on Monday.
The Pole, who needed seven hours of surgery involving seven doctors split into two teams after he sustained multiple fractures to his right leg and arm, was put into an induced coma after hitting a church wall at high speed in Italy on Sunday.
Doctors were worried at first about the functionality of his right hand but are now sounding positive, with Renault's Eric Boullier even more upbeat.
"When you have a big crash like Robert suffered on Sunday doctors always predict the worst case scenario," Boullier told the BBC on his way to visit Kubica along with fellow Renault driver Vitaly Petrov.
"He is definitely out for a couple of months. The recovery will be quicker than one year but it is a bit early to know exactly how long he will need."
Despite Boullier's optimism Kubica's surgeon said the possible recovery time could be around a year, with the next few days crucial to see if the operation was totally successful.
"The hand is warm and this means the operation went well," surgeon Mario Igor Rossello told reporters at the Santa Corona hospital near Genoa.
"We need at least six days to check if the circulation of the blood in the limb responds as it should."
With testing already under way in Spain and the first race of the season in Bahrain on March 13, Kubica's Lotus-backed team will have to find a replacement for one of the most popular and competitive drivers on the grid.
The team's official third drivers are Brazilian Bruno Senna and France's Romain Grosjean.
Senna competed last season for the HRT team while Grosjean started seven races for Renault in 2009.
Neither has scored a point in Formula One and media reports have quickly focused on Germans Nick Heidfeld and Nico Hulkenberg as possible long-term alternatives, although the latter is contracted to Force India as a reserve.
"We are already starting to think and work on a contingency plan," added Boullier who strongly defended Kubica's love of rallying in his spare time despite the risks.
"We don't know yet, we are actually waiting to know how long it will take because if it is a short-term replacement we will take one of our reserve drivers. If he has to be longer we may have to consider different options."
Goodwill messages have poured in for the 26-year-old, a race winner in Canada in 2008 with BMW-Sauber.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso visited him late on Sunday and the Internet and Twitter have been awash with support.
"I am still upset by the news about Robert Kubica. It is shocking ... just terrible. I hope the medical efforts are working and will continue to work so he can go back to normal with no lingering damage," seven-times champion Michael Schumacher said on his website (www.michael-schumacher.de).
"We are all rooting for him and our thoughts are with him and his family."