Kubica and Vettel collide (Video) (Update: Vettel handed penalty)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel clashed in dramatic fashion in the dying stages of the Australian Grand Prix.

Kubica was catching Vettel and leader Jenson Button at the time and looked set to mount an improbable bid for victory – instead his race and Vettel’s ended in the barriers.

Kubica had a clear run at Vettel and tried to pass him around the outside of turn three. But the pair banged wheels, and both ripped off part of their front wings.

Both continued but both got no further than turn five. Vettel put his wheels on the grass on the way into the corner and clattered into the barriers. Kubica simply under-steered straight on and met the same end.

Then followed the bizarre sight of Vettel trying to drag his now three-wheeled Red Bull around the track. At first the other cars hesitated to pass him as the safety car had been deployed, but Vettel eventually gave up and pulled his wrecked RB5 to a halt.

The drama meant the race ended behind the safety car for the first time since the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix. Vettel and Kubica were classified 14th and 15th.

Update: Sebastian Vettel has been handed a ten place grid drop penalty for the Malaysian Grand Prix for the incident. To my mind, it looked like a standard racing accident and wouldn’t have apportioned blame on either side. But Vettel immediately apologised so he must have considered himself at fault.

190 comments on “Kubica and Vettel collide (Video) (Update: Vettel handed penalty)”

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  1. I can’s really see Kubica’s fault in here, especialy if you will look from the birds view. He left plenty of space to Vettel to allow him to brake down. Vettel was aware his tyres are in bad shape, he must knew he has got no chances – anyway he decided to push Kubica out of the track. Not the best idea I think. And RedBull team radio explains everyting:

    Team Radio S.Vettel:
    “I’m idiot… I’m very, very sorry…”

    I think with these words Sebastians explained very clearly whos fault was it.

    1. Sherman Tank
      29th March 2009, 10:10

      Give him a break hes just a kid, besides that he was apologising to his team for letting them down. 50/50

    2. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 10:27

      It didn’t look like he tried to push Kubica off the track to me. He (Vettel) braked early for the corner and tried to stay tight and just wasn’t given enough room.
      Perhaps Vettel should have slowed down even more, perhaps Kubica should have given Vettel enough room. It was a racing incident and both were equally to blame.

      If the new rules are going to increase overtaking they’re also going to increase incidents like this so the stewards will have to become a bit more lenient. Hopefully neither driver will be punished today.

    3. The bird’s eye view is very misleading though–at least it is on my monitor, because the dark livery of the RB5 disappears in the shadows as the cars go behind the trees on the right side of the track. It looked to me like Kubica had over half a car up on Vettel going into the corner when really, the entire front of Vettel’s car was invisible to me and Kubica was never more than a nose ahead and then only under braking, after both drivers had already committed. Vettel was a nose ahead as they hit their braking points–I don’t see what else he could have done, short of rolling over for him.

    4. Swaveck…I’m not reffering to the initial contact which I’ve already said in another post Kubica had the racing line and Vettel refused to concede. I’m talking about the second contact.

    5. Aside from the terrible result of the incident, it was funny as hell to hear Vettel’s radio transmission after it happened- he sounded like a little kid who threw a baseball through the neighbor’s window :)

  2. Yeah Kubica was already accelerating from the corner had Vettel behind. He already lost sight of Sebastian.

  3. IMO… 100% Kubicas fault… he had the speed, he knew he had the speed… we are talking about 2nd place with a few laps to go, no TRUE racer will ever concede a corner in those circumstances… Vettel drove well, defending the corner well, was alongside on entry… Kubica knew he was there, knew he was going to defend hard (2nd place, 3 laps remaining)… Kubica should have given Vettel more room, Kubica could easily have held the line around the outside on his tyres, and traction out of the corner would have given him the place… IMO… Total lack of experience on Kubicas part… lets not forget 20years ago these kind of moves were ten a penny and the drivers acted professionally and with respect for their counterparts and the racing was awesome.

    1. DOUGIE What you talking about ? Why Kubica should give Vettel more room ??? Kubica’s nose was up in front of Vettel ! Kubica has a winning mentality, he’s a fighter, 3rd or 2nd place is not good enough for him. He could easily pass Button later on.

    2. Because if Kubica had any intelligence he would know that by not giving the room he would risk a big collision… by giving the room he will have the place on the exit of the corner.

      What happened?… there was a big collision… enough said. Vettel defended the corner very well, he had the inside on entry, Kubica drove into Vettel not the other way round.

    3. I think you have watched different race. Look at this pic how much space Vettel had on his right. http://strony.aster.pl/sim/misc/KUB-VET.JPG
      Thank you, that explain everything. He had no intention not to hit Kubica. Even German’s commentators on Premiere TV agreed it was Vettel’s fault.

    4. Mike, he was sliding under braking.

    5. I will go with Dougie on this one.
      Although; I hope no one gets a penalty.

      Kubika had no business turning in so sharply after Vettel had well and truly covered the inside line.
      Both the drivers could have passed side-by-side through the right-hander. And the BMW engine would have given the position to Kubika then.

      Vettel was just trying to make it difficult for Kubika by braking as late as possible. In spite of that; Kubika had his nose ahead. If only Kubika had kept his cool; he would have been second.

      I don’t buy Mario’s theory that Kubika was winning the race. The Brawn car didn’t seem as it was pushed to the limits. Infact; it was fueled to the finish at the first pit stop itself.

    6. But they’re already exiting the corner in that screenshot–nobody on the racing line would be any closer to the kerbs than Vettel is at that moment. Furthermore, Vettel was actually ahead of Kubica when they hit their braking points. And my German’s a bit rusty, but I thought they were saying “Beide, beide”, placing blame on both drivers, comparing their duel to Glock and Alonso’s earlier, in which they gave each other room and didn’t take each other out.

  4. It was obviously Vettel’s stupidity.

    Sure, Kubica could have lifted, and wait for another clear opportunity.

    But with his rhythm broken, it might have been yet another 0,5-1 lap before another safe chance is presented.

    That 0,5-1 lap lost could have cost him victory – as all this was happening just 3 laps from the end.

    He simply couldn’t afford to wait for another chance – it was reasonable risk-taking on his part.

    On the other hand, just what the f… was Vettel thinking?

    He had ZERO chance to keep Kubica behind for 3 laps with a car skidding around and 5 seconds slower.

    By not conceding (like many intelligently did, when Hamilton was charging from behind), he was either to help Button against Kubica (by causing significant time loss for RK) or take both of them out.

    He succeeded in the latter.

    A totally brainless act from him, while Kubica just took a risk he HAD to take for the win. Not for second place, of course, but he wasn’t going for second place…

    1. If the drivers are thinking as MJ4 says they should be thinking then what has happened to Formula 1!?! That’s not racing, let monkeys drive the car… right Benjy get in the car,drive it fast, the car is fast enough for 3rd, the other drivers will give you the place if your are faster in the last few laps. No problem. Oooh ooh eee aa aa!!

    2. Geoffrey Raymond
      30th March 2009, 2:33

      “He had ZERO chance to keep Kubica behind for 3 laps with a car skidding around and 5 seconds slower.” THAT’S your rationale for suggesting that Vettel just let Kubica go past? Vettel’s job is to hold his position. If the history of contemporary F1 teaches us anything it’s that a slower car can frequently hold off a faster one for at least a couple of laps. I put it the blame squarely on Kubica–no way was he far enough ahead to come down on Vettel like he did–and I attribute Vettel’s apology to youth. I can assure you if Vettel had been Schumacher they would have kicked Kubica back to go-karts.

  5. The drivers know best if they did something wrong, so Vetels apologies mean more than all your speculation.

    It looked to me as Vetel had plenty of space, plus Kubica had 1st in mind so he couldn’t wait even till the next turn to take Vetel otherwise he wouldn’t get close enough to Mutton.

    1. Vettel is unusual in that he feels responsibility even when it is not his (I know that feeling well)… would he have apologised if he had taken more time to properly analyse the footage. I don’t feel Vettel can take any blame here, I think it was pure racing, everything was spot on until Kubica squeezed way too much too late.

  6. In my opinion this is Vettels mistake, I suppose he just made his mistake on the early braking otherwise Kubica would have no chance to leave him little room, probably overshooting that corner.

  7. I agree with Sherman Tank, Vettel was not apologizing to Kubica or BMW over the radio, he was pretty clearly apologizing to his team because he knew that he couldn’t possibly continue their good work and get the podium that he and they deserved.

    There are heaps of could’ve and should’ve for both driver to make but they didnt happen. The way it turned out, the blame is 50/50 in my book.

  8. I can see very clearly that there was plenty space left for vettel.

    This when the contact was initiated.

    KUB did not pushed him out of the track. He just forced him to brake, but Sebastian was not really keen to do so.
    Can not see KUB fault in here.

    Even later, when VET have seen KUB spinning, he did not brake down – he just rammed hist front wing.

    Honestyly I think VETTEL is agreat taent but blaming KUB because VET is in fasion now is a bit wrong way.

    Saying about the VET Team Radio I ment the first part of what he have said. He knew he has made a mistake.

    1. What that image doesn’t show is that Kubica was coming across Vettel, and that Vettel was moving to the inside of the corner. Vettel was not moving out to Kubica.

    2. It was clearly 50/50.

      You have to remember a racing incident like this is caused by two drivers not one.

    3. Most of commentators agreed it was Vettel’s error. Rules are simple, before the “touch” Kubica was before Vettel so simply young german should let him go first without having no movement to either left or right.

    4. A single frame does not tell the whole story. Take one about half a second before, and you find Vettel on the kerb, with Kubica having completely blocked him in.

      By that point, there was nothing that could be done by either driver to prevent the accident. So by the point of your picture, the accident was already inevitable. In fact, it looks like Vettel was touching the kerb with his right wheel when his left wheel first touched Kubicas sidepod.

      The incident was started by Vettels early braking, and Kubica assuming he’d reach the corner before Vettel as a consequence.

  9. Toby Thwaites 93
    29th March 2009, 10:56


    1. I think this was 50/50 to be honest now. Although I think this, and others, clearly demonstrates the difference between overtaking now with the lack of opportunities and therefore lack of experience and overtaking 20 years ago… Mansell & Senna (whichever way round you want to put it) would have come through this on the track and still made the move as close and successfully.

    2. How could Kubica hgave won the race? He still would have needed to catch Button and overtake Button. Kubica wasn’t really faster than Button. So where people get this nonsense is beyond me.

    3. I disagree. Yeah Kubica was faster but this was both drivers racing right on the edge and of course sometimes this is going to happen. If anything, Kubica could have given Vettel more room as he had over a cars width to his left through the corner.

    4. I disagree. Yeah Kubica was faster but this was both drivers racing right on the edge and of course sometimes this is going to happen. If anything, Kubica could have given Vettel more room as he had over a cars width to his left through the whole corner.

  10. @TommyB

    Yep I saw it to, really dangerous those flying tyres, I don’t understand how this is possible since Senna. Big error by BMW…

  11. @Dougie – watch the video again. If Vettel would go or heading to the inside – there would be no incident. I mean the moment right out of the corner – watch it from heli cam.

  12. Daugie,
    I’m affraid you are not saying the truth:

    Frame by frame:


    Vettel is moving OUT of the corner pushing on KUB car.
    I’m sorry man. You don’t have to like KUB but please be objective.

    1. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 11:04

      That’s because Vettel was forced to take a very tight line…

    2. Can’t argue with that… but I was already coming to the conclusion it was 50/50 to be honest…

      btw… I like Kubica a lot and was rooting for him in the first half of last year, and was appalled to see BMW not support his championship challenge. I have no favouritism between these two, I just said it as I saw it.

    3. Look at the first frame, Vettel has no space to go, and his wing is in contact with Kubicas wheel, by the second frame it’s already been sheared off.

    4. I tell a lie, it looks more like it’s that Vettels wing got caught by the front of Kubicas sidepods, not his wheel.

      Something, I hasten to add, that could only have been caused by Kubica turning in too steeply.

  13. To all those who still try to igure out whose fault was that.

    By Sebastian Vettel:

    “It’s a shame as it meant the end of the race for both of us. Should I have let him go? You always want to fight. Maybe I should have said let him go and bring third back home, but that’s life.
    I tried to defend and, up to the mid-corner, I had reason, but then I had no grip to avoid a collision. I’m sorry to the team and also to Robert, as it didn’t just mean the end of my race, but also his.”

    1. Fair play to him and I stand corrected… but this makes me sad for F1…

      Maybe I should have said let him go and bring third back home

    2. Vettel deserves credit just for blaming no one but himself. How many others would’ve done the same without pointing the finger at the track, the car, the other driver, anything to avoid taking the blame?

  14. Lol :))

    VET was forced to brake down – not to take tight corner. Clear rule. You have got no space to take the corner – means you have been just overtaken – slow down and try to recover at te next corner – and don’t ram!

    1. Well I think this just concludes our discussion:)
      Another thing is how do you feel, did Kubica with his paca have any chance for a succesful fight with Button driving on those super soft tires?

  15. Toby Thwaites 93
    29th March 2009, 11:18

    Thats the only outcome i can find

    1. Oh what are you talking about? Vettel proved last year – and today – hes a great talent. Kubica did the same since hes in F1.

  16. OMG people need to get in touch with reality!

    @ Swaveck
    Your picture is ridiculous. Come on, get real!

    The fact that Vettel had some centimeters of space on the inside of the corner means NOTHING.
    A car canNOT always go anywhere the driver wants it to go. There are LAWS OF PHYSICS that you cannot go round only because you want to.

    Vettel was 1) forced to take the inside line into the corner and 2) he was braking very late (duh!).
    Because of this, he couldn’t go into the corner as tightly as one wishes. It was obvious – and Kubica should’ve known that – that Vettel would not be able to keep to the inside of the corner all the way through.
    Both cars braked as hard as possible – as they always do, but Vettel was forced to do it on the verge of skidding. He couldn’t have braked harder than he did. And if he turned right more rapidly he would simply spin and throw them both instantly from track.

    Robert lacked imagination to prevent the accident that was inevitable under circumstances that he himself created.
    He should’ve given Vettel more room. Because Vettel couldn’t vanished in the air or jump over Robert’s car.

    Final verdict: Kubica’s fault all the way.

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      29th March 2009, 11:36

      Why did Vettel get the 10 place grid penalty then? I think you should leave the deciding to the Stewards as they have better equipment to assess the crash and seen as though Vettel apologised to Dr Mario and Robert he knows he could of done more and he got the penalty, shows that this was VETTEL’S FAULT not Kubica.
      Dr Mario as did the math, he new Kubica could of won the race http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7970558.stm

  17. Dougie,

    Racing does not mean a total lack of cooperation between pilots.

    Letting someone ahead when he’s

    1) already ahead
    2) way quicker than you

    is intelligent cooperation for the interest of both, not a fear/inability to race, as you imply with those monkeys.

    1. Letting someone ahead when he’s
      1) already ahead
      is intelligent cooperation

      Duh!! You first, no you, no you, I insist.

      Mansell & Senna (and Rossi & Stoner) have showed how intelligent cooperation does not detract from the racing and still give a great show.

    2. Problem is, Vettel was ahead of Kubica when they reached the braking zone. Should Kubica have rolled over then? Of course not. But when you’re on the edge like that you’ve got to give each other some room.

  18. Vettel gets two penalties after the accident.

  19. Damon:

    “Vettel was 1) forced to take the inside line into the corner”

    LOL – do you thing KUB should slow down and let VET take better position to take corner? KUB was there which means there is no place for VET. If he had no space to make a corner properly he should brake down what he has even admitt – but somehow you still trying to defend those weird ********.

    ” and 2) he was braking very late (duh!).”

    :>>>> Now I’m just wondering if for sure you have been watching 2009 Australian GP. It is a bloody clear VET was braking much, much earlier. please watch this race again, and if neccessary, watch it again and again. Maybe you will se how early were VET’s brakes.

    To help you out – please watch the 7th second of the video on the top of this page.

    Vettel’s 100% fault.

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      29th March 2009, 11:56

      Well said

    2. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 12:49

      “LOL – do you thing KUB should slow down and let VET take better position to take corner?”

      Well you seem to think that Vettel should have slowed down even more to give Kubica the position….
      Like you say later in your post, Vettel broke very early for the corner. He obviously did this because he wanted to *avoid* a collision, it was a sensible thing to do and he still went into the corner side by side with Kubica. Kubica has said that he thought he was clear of Vettel and turned in. So even though he’s not man enough to admit his part in the accident, it does seem that he was at least partly to blame.

      Either way it was an accident so blaming Vettel and acting as though he did it deliberately seems a bit silly. He didn’t want to go out of the race either.

  20. Penalty is apparently for his driving round after the accident, not the accident itself.

    1. That makes much more sense, thanks for mentioning it.

    2. Penalty for Vettel is for accident, $50,000 for the team is for driving round after the accident.

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