Kubica comeback far from certain
Much will be made this season of the incredible strength in depth of the Formula 1 field in 2012, with six world champions all taking part, each one of them with a justifiable claim to being an all-time great.
But when the season kicks off in Melbourne on 18 March, there will be a man sitting at home in Europe who could make that line-up even stronger.
Robert Kubica might well have been starting this year's Australian Grand Prix grid in a Ferrari had he not suffered the horrendous rallying accident that prevented him racing for Renault in 2011.
As it is, he is in a no-man's land, not knowing whether he will ever be able to drive an F1 car in anger again.
This week, reports in Italy have emerged that he is planning to get back behind the wheel of an F1 car - almost certainly a Ferrari - in June. The problem is, that is more a hope than a plan, as no one knows whether the Pole will be fit to drive by then.
Kubica is doing four or five hours' worth of physical training a day, despite still recovering from a broken leg sustained earlier this month in an incident that re-opened one of the fractures he sustained in his rally crash.
But the leg is not a major problem - the 27-year-old is not in plaster, there is only a light support around the limb, and he can drive a road car despite it. Before the re-break, he had already started doing some jogging, and the expectation is that the injury will no longer trouble him within a week or so.
Kubica has been linked with a return to F1 with Ferrari. Photo: Getty
The issue remains the movement in his right hand, which was partially severed in the rally crash on 6 February last year.
His injuries that day were truly horrific - he suffered partial amputation of his right forearm and numerous fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg, as well as losing a lot of blood. Had doctors not worked so quickly, he could have died.
Once his condition was stabilised, it became clear that the biggest problem was going to be the hand.
Both main nerves to the hand were severed, and had to be repaired by surgeons, and movement remains restricted. Specifically, he is lacking strength in the hand, and his ability to rotate his wrist is limited - in other words, he does not yet have the two physical attributes he needs to steer an F1 car.
According to his doctors, it is a matter of when, not if, the nerves rebuild themselves and he recovers full use of the hand, but no one knows when that will be.
Kubica is out of contract and all his links with his former team have evaporated. So when/if he is fit to drive an F1 car, it is likely to be a Ferrari.
The Italian team had an option on him for the 2011 season, which they did not take up, but sources say they remain interested and have discussed the issue internally.
It is a complicated matter, though. If Kubica tells them he feels ready to drive an F1 car, Ferrari have to consider how a test for him would look to Felipe Massa, whose contract runs out at the end of the year and who already knows he is under pressure to raise his game compared to team-mate Fernando Alonso in 2012 if he is stay on.
Equally, it is not as if they do not have other options.
Red Bull's Mark Webber, in whom they were interested for 2012 before deciding to stick with Massa, remains on Ferrari's radar.
And Lewis Hamilton is out of contract with McLaren at the end of this season, even if the prospects must be considered distant of the Englishman renewing what was a combustible combination with Alonso at McLaren in 2007.
As far as Kubica is concerned, all this remains moot until he can prove a) that he is physically recovered; and b) that he has not lost any driving ability.
He has told those close to him that unless he can recover 100% of his skill, he will quit motorsport. He will not know that until he drives an F1 simulator and then a car for the first time.
He hopes that will be in June - but a hope is all it is. It could just as easily be August, or any other month you pluck out of the sky. He is not in a hurry, although the longer it goes on, the less the likelihood will be of that Ferrari seat in 2013 remaining open.
Right now, then, there is no reason to say he will be back, but at the same time there is no reason to say he won't.
In many ways, it would feel like a miracle if Kubica did make it back to F1. But what a story it would be if he does.