Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica plans to leave the hospital within days to start the next stage of his recovery from a career-threatening rally accident in February.
"I am starting to feel a lot better now. My recovery is moving in the right direction: my strength and weight are increasing day on day and as a result I will leave the Santa Corona hospital very soon," he told the Renault team website (www.lotusrenaultgp.com) on Thursday.
"I don't have a precise date as yet but I hope to be able to leave within the next 10 days," he added in a public letter thanking fans and the Formula One world for their support and concern.
Kubica suffered severe arm, leg and hand injuries when he crashed in a minor rally in Italy on Feb 6 and has had multiple rounds of surgery. He said the mobility to his hand was still limited, although that was normal in such a situation because the muscles were still weak due to a long period of immobility, but improving steadily.
"As soon as I leave hospital, I'll head to my home in Monaco for a short period of rest," said the Pole, one of the sport's highest-rated drivers who had been tipped as a potential race winner this season. Kubica will then return to Italy to start a deep rehabilitation and soft training programme.
The driver, who has remained in close contact with the team, said the response from fans had been overwhelming. "I really didn't realise that quite this many fans were supporting me. I'm very flattered and I promise them that, when I'm back, I'll give them my absolute best," he said.
Renault have had two podium finishes from the first three races of the year, with Russian Vitaly Petrov third in Australia and Germany's Nick Heidfeld -- standing in for Kubica -- third in Malaysia.
Team principal Eric Boullier told Reuters in China at the weekend that it was still too early to say when Kubica might be able to return. "I think you still need to give him maybe a month or more to have a better idea of when he could be back," said the Frenchman.