Lotus Renault GP has vowed to do what it can to try and keep a seat open for Robert Kubica throughout next year, amid the increasing likelihood that the Polish driver will not be fit for the start of the season.
Kubica is still recovering from the serious injuries he suffered in a rally crash during February, and there is still no definite news on when he will be ready to return to racing. Although that means the team may be forced to look elsewhere for a teammate for Vitaly Petrov next year, team principal Eric Boullier has not ruled out slotting in Kubica later in the campaign if he cannot come back any earlier.
"The latest I have is that he cannot commit to any deadline, so we have to discuss a common communication plan," Boullier said. "We obviously want him to be back.
"If it has to be during the course of next year, why not? There are some conditions that we need to discuss, and I need to discuss with his manager that once he knows he cannot be back, or if he cannot be back, then any scenarios we now need to properly communicate."
Boullier had originally laid down an October deadline for Kubica to give firm news on his future plans, and that was subsequently extended. Although there is still no certainty over Kubica's position, Boullier insists he is not worrying yet about the situation, especially as he has plenty of options for next year.
"I am patient because I am morally committed for him; he was very important for us," he said. "We play the game, we played every game for him and I am morally committed. If I can have a scenario where he can be back, even during the course of the year, I will try to make it, but obviously I cannot do more."
With Kubica working hard on his recovery, Boullier said that there had been little contact with the driver. He believes that was simply because things had not been progressing as well as Kubica had probably hoped.
"If he doesn't want to speak to anybody, what can I say? There is no problem in the communication plan of the last month. I think the problem is that October was the key month for him to make sure that he could be back in February.
"Unfortunately, I think he is not ready now, this is why he is missing the month and he is working very hard to catch back up. But the October month was the key one to make sure that we could commit for next year and the first race."
There has been speculation that Kubica is already looking at options with other teams for the future, with Ferrari having always been interested in him, especially as his contract with Renault runs out at the end of this season. Boullier said he could not stop the Pole racing elsewhere, but said from his side he would hold on to make a seat available.
"Even if it is business, we have been morally committed to him, more than morally committed, so if he does this [drives elsewhere] he does what he wants. The contract is expiring at the end of the year, so he does what he wants.
"We have been fair enough, we have been morally committed and if he wants to drive somewhere else, fine. He does what he wants. I don't believe there is another place better than ours today, free."
Romain Grosjean's strong form in Friday practice in Abu Dhabi has helped ease Boullier's concerns for next year, though, as the Frenchman could be a good candidate to join the team.
Speaking about Grosjean's performance, Boullier said: "I think he did well. No mistakes. He built up some speed, delivering some good lap times and I am surprised about the feedback which is quite good, and then we will see. Obviously, it was his first session and I think he had the pace, so let's see in Interlagos."
When asked if Grosjean was ready for a step up to F1 with Renault, Boullier said: "Maybe... he is one of the plans for sure, one of the scenarios, definitely."