Renault has suggested it is likely to wait until after the Jerez and Barcelona tests before it decides who replaces Robert Kubica at the start of the season.
Team owner Gerard Lopez visited Kubica in the hospital on Wednesday and said the outfit is to use one of its reserve drivers during testing before deciding who will race. He made it clear, however, that Renault will look for a more experienced driver if Kubica is sidelined for the whole season.
Renault currently has Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean as reserves, with another three drivers under contract. Lopez also expressed optimism about Kubica making a full recovery.
"Robert has come out more or less OK from this tragedy: this is the best news," Lopez told IVG.it. "Knowing that he was with staff who knew what they were doing, and so that there were great hopes to have him back the way he was, this has been the best news of the last few days.
"Our strategy will be to try out a young driver to get kilometers under his belt and prepare for the years to come. Should Robert be out for the entire season, then it will normally be a more experienced driver to do the entire season, to develop the car, and everything else."
He also insisted the team is considering Nick Heidfeld and Tonio Liuzzi as possible replacements.
"Yes, there are no vetoes: those two for sure are on the list of the drivers we are looking at now," he said. "We must wait for the Jerez tests now, and thankfully the Barcelona ones, too, and see how the car is going, and how the driver – who will start the season and maybe ending it, too – is doing. We don't know.
"There are drivers who have had good races – for example Nick Heidfeld. We all know that Nick is rather good, but we don't know what level he is at now; we don't know how he would do with our car. Same goes for Vitantonio Liuzzi; same goes for Bruno Senna, who last year was in a team with a car that could do nothing.
"It's very difficult to say, because it's a combination between car and driver. With Robert, since we know him very well, we were sure we could do something this year. Without Robert, we don't know. Should Robert not come back this season, I think we'll make the decision to go for a driver who can win – but we don't know yet."
Kubica is to undergo further surgery this week, and doctors said on Wednesday that Kubica's hand has made good progress and that they will now begin working on trying to recover its functionality.
"The medical evaluation comes to a close with a positive outcome," said Giorgio Barabino, head of the intensive care unit at the Santa Corona hospital. Still to come are the next surgery operations that will be performed from Friday onward. "Yesterday the final necessary checks have been done, like the CT angiogram, and the hemorrhage in the lumbar region has been verified and it has been resolved.
"The phase of the final surgery operations is beginning: the double operation to foot and shoulder is planned for Friday morning, while the course of surgeries will end next week. The driver's right hand has completely stabilized. Now the delicate recovery of the functionalities begins."