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. Ethnic_Tension
    29th March 2009, 11:36

    I was at corner 3 when the incident occurred. Kubica was clearly ahead by the time they reached the corner. Kubica was on the racing line. He left enough room for Vettel however Vettel’s tyres were in a poor state and he was on the dirty side of the track. Vettel started to brake before Kubica, however by then it was already too late.

    It was neither Kubica’s nor Vettel’s fault. It was just an unlucky situation. True that both of them are experienced and could have handled it better however nothing you can do now.

    By the way, from where I was standing it looked like after the initial impact, Kubica intentionally tried to send Vettel into the wall.

    1. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 12:52

      “By the way, from where I was standing it looked like after the initial impact, Kubica intentionally tried to send Vettel into the wall.”

      I thought that as well actually. But I thought it was more to do with Kubica trying to keep his foot down after he had been hit, to get out of the crash before Vettel, rather than him deliberately trying to ram Vettel off the track.
      A bit silly.

  2. Actually NO!! I stand by what I initially said… I’ve just watched the footage yet again.

    Going into the braking zone, Vettel was well ahead of Kubica and Vettel was still alongside on turn in… Kubica should have given him more room. My very original comment still stands.

    I got to go now, its been fun. Have a great Sunday guys.

  3. for those who prefer to be blind than objective.

    Sebastian Vettel has been given a ten place grid penalty for the Malaysian Grand Prix after the Melbourne stewards judged that his late-race collision with Robert Kubica in Australia was an ‘avoidable accident’.

    Source http://www.itv-f1.com/News_Article.aspx?id=45387

    and Kubica and Vettel opinion:

    Kubica: “Sebastian went wide in corner one and then he braked early,” “I was already in front, but he didn’t want to let me by.
    “Then he had a lot of understeer and touched me.
    “My front wing was under the car, therefore I crashed in corner 5.
    “I think Sebastian was a bit too optimistic.

    Vettel: “I had a stupid racing accident with Robert,” he said.

    “At the time I turned in I was ahead, but I couldn’t keep up speed in the corner and Robert was on a harder tyre, so was much quicker.
    “At the time we collided he was in front, but I had nowhere to go, I couldn’t stop the car, or turn to the right and my tyres were gone.
    “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.”

    All clear? or still not?

    1. Nope, again the stewards get it wrong and take a racing incident, apportion blame incorrectly, and prevent proper racing in the future.

      It was a racing incident, Kubica could have given more room, Vettel could have been more cautious on worn tyres, in the circumstances I think Kubica (but that is just my opinion) and ultimately it was a racing incident and no penalties are required.

      Massa driving into the side of Hamilton after a clean pass is an “avoidable incident”.

      ps. I like Hamilton, was well impressed with his drive today, and I was rooting for Massa in 2008.

  4. Dougie,

    You don’t WANT to understand what I’m talking about.

    I don’t think people should let faster opponents by, especially when no overtaking manoeuvers are taking place, just driving close to each other.

    But there IS a point DURING such an overtaking manoeuver where you should accept that – for the time being, at least – you are defeated. Maybe you have a go again in the very next corner or straight but that one is lost.

    Not accepting this won’t miraculously turn the situation around, producing some GREAT racing, it’ll just ruin it for both drivers.

    Oh, and I don’t see how your Mansell reference is is contradiction to anything I said. I agree on what you say there, and I also love action like Kubica-Massa in 2007.

    This was just not that kind.

    1. Hi MJ4, I do hear what you are saying and do appreciate your point of view…I agree with you in the main on the last comment, just I feel this is not that situation… I think Vettel had the right to the corner, he was ahead in the braking zone and alongside on turn in (watch the view from Kubicas car cam), and that Kubica could have given more room and gone around the outside.

  5. Somebody who is not wearing KUBICA merchandise explain to me how only Vettel got punished for that incidence.

    For all those exonerating RK i recall the moral argument against Ham on his Spa move on Kimi last year being that he should have held back since he was the faster car anyway.The argument then was that it was a sign of maturity in a driver. I would expect that between Vettel and RK, the pole should be the more mature driver?

  6. What a joke!! A racing incident thats all! Wheres the Barrichello penalty, the Kovy penalty etc.

  7. Vettel also fined $50,000…

    “Because of his damaged car Vettel was obliged to park it but he didn’t, instead trying to continue through to the last lap as other were not allowed to pass him.” <PF1

  8. Really a joke? simply racing incident? 3 laps to go! Kubica is fighting for P1 and P2 and for you this is joke?

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      29th March 2009, 12:05

      YEAH kubica could of won this race! Not a joke at all

  9. Having red those:


    i cant belive there are still those who blame RK for the accident. No matter Vettel admit that this was his mistake… they know even better than him. What a specialists.

    To make it clear:
    Penalty is for driving damaged car (cash fine) and for causing a collision (10-place grid penalty).

    1. barichello cause at least two crashes… where is his 20-place grid penalty?

  10. Slowing it down and using screen grabs as evidence of fault means nothing for an incident that happened at high speed over the course of a couple of seconds. Vettel could have let him through, Kubica could have given him a bit more room. It’s an old fashioned “racing incident”.

    Giving Vettel a penalty is ridiculous. Can anyone tell me whether any of the stewards have racing backgrounds? I’m not aware that they do and until race stewards are ex-drivers with plenty of first hand experience of such things we’re always going to see stupid decisions like this one and the farcical penalty handed to Bourdais after the Massa incident at Spa last year.

    FIA – if you want to encourage overtaking, please STOP penalising drivers every time there’s a slight misjudgement from them!!!

    1. Well you say it right there. They penalised Bourdais for a similar incident (Massa was actually much more to blame there). How could they not penalise Vettel now?

      One steward is a Czech national level Rally driver with years experience as a steward and the other an Icelandic rally co-driver and also a steward in previous F1 events (since 2001).

  11. Sorry guys, this looks like a no brainer. Vettel had to give Kubica track room for a fair pass and didn’t, causing a collision.

  12. New race, new season of F1.. and new collisions. But it looks like normal racing accident.

  13. I think that Vettel was to blame for the incident. It was completely useless to fight Kubica that hard.

    I don’t think the grid penalty is warranted, but it’s in line with the new harsh attitude of the stewards. They were this harsh with Hamilton (and others) last year, so why not now with Vettel?

    I’m appalled by Theissen and Kubica’s claim that Kubica could have won. That’s just utterly lame.

    Kubica was not 2 seconds faster. He was half a second to a second faster than Vettel, but only about a tenth faster than Button. There is no way he would have caught up to Button let alone pass him.

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      29th March 2009, 12:21

      If you watched the race you could of seen that Kubica was catching around 0.6 or 0.5 seconds PER SECTOR over the last 5 laps and even Brawn said he was relieved when Kubica was no longer a threat.
      Dr Mario was right with that claim

    2. yeah kubica was flying .3-.5 per lap and only a handful of seconds away from button – and vettel was also trying to get close to button, he was also catching at .1+ a lap.

    3. What race have you guys been watching?

      Kubica gained 2.4 seconds on Vettel over the last 5 laps (lap 51 to 55). That’s an average of 5 tenths PER LAP. Indeed he was catching him faster and faster and on the last lap it was nearly a second per lap (0.922s).

      Vettel was LOSING time on Button. The last lap he lost 1.5s! Over the last 5 laps he lost 2.3s on Button.

      Kubica gained a whopping 0.07 seconds on Button over those 5 laps. That’s 0,014s per lap!

      On lap 55 Button held a lead of something like 3.8s so at the rate that Kubica was gaining on him it would take 220 laps to catch him. The last lap Button was actually pulling away from Kubica by half a second.

      Of course Brawn was happy that Kubica (and Vettel) was no longer a threat. Button could go slow and Barrichello gained two places.

      Theissen must have had a brain fade when he was talking about 2 seconds a lap and thinking that Kubica would come even close to Button (3.8s in 3 laps), let alone past Button.

      But then Kimi claims he would have been second hadn’t he crashed into the wall. I guess these guys all don’t have any sense of reality.

    4. You wrote:
      “A real racer would have made that pass and would not have hit his opponent.”

      Wow! This is a Mount Everest of non logical thinking!
      What kind of argument is that? Is this a joke or what? Using your way o thinking I could say that;
      “A real race driver would not have hit Kimi’s car but would have gently stopped behind him”
      It is really funny!

    5. It’s ok Chris. Maybe if you think a bit longer you’ll understand.

      Or you must really think that Kubica could have done nothing to prevent that accident. Then you’ll never understand no.

    6. I have been thinking enough about that,it is not a big brainer, you do not have monopoly for that, trust me. Kubica did what he should do. Vettel made a mistake, drove to wide, then he pushed the brakes in the corner. When he saw Kubica in front of him he released the brakes and accelerated which caused the crash. Should he not have done it, it wouldn’t be any collision. It is only his fault and he admitted that and apologised Kubica after the race. But you know better than him.

    7. “When he saw Kubica in front of him he released the brakes and accelerated which caused the crash.”

      Have you got any basis for saying that? The rev meter shows no increase in revs. The cause of the crash was the removal of Vettels front wing by Kubica.

    8. Kubica should have realized that pushing Vettel off line might make him miss his braking point by a few inch. By giving 0 inch room, Kubica was just begging for an accident.

      Cutting it so close is just not good practice if you want to overtake people. It’s way too risky and you end up in the gravel more often than that you succesfully make a pass.

      The only way this would have worked is if Vettel just let Kubica by. Not just that, but Vettel should have committed to letting Kubica by even before they went into the corner. By the time they turned in it was too late already.

      A good racer doesn’t rely on people committed to letting him pass. He makes the pass, but also makes (reasonably) sure both cars comes out the other end intact. Look at what Senna used to do. Or what Hamilton and Rosberg did today.

      Either completely push your opponent off-line so they cannot even enter the turn inside of you (ie make them close up behind you even before the turn starts). Alternatively, if you have that much more speed, give them space to take the corner and just accelerate away after the corner.

      Kubica’s overtaking move was a half assed attempt. He tried to be bold, but to late into the corner. It’s the same thing Massa always does and then he acts surprised afterwards that the opponent actually thought he could defend his position while they both went into the turn.

  14. As I state in my blog (f1nerd.net) I think Vettel signed his own death warrant so to say in this incident. He was far too apologetic in something that could pass the blame either way.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he just held his hands up in the stewards meeting and took the blame without question.

    As for Red Bull it was a stupid decision to keep him on track, and I can’t believe they expected any different then this fine.

    1. yeah when i was watching it i put kubica a bit more in the blame for it, obviously vettel was having traction issues, to go around the outside is the wrong way around, out braking into the MANY braking zones would be better… but in saying that, he was on the way to catching button, so secrewing around wasn’t an option.

  15. If 2008 Brazil was anything to go by, that one point to Lewis may prove very valuable later on in the season. I am happy the World Champion seems to have learnt to keep a cool head from his erratic performances in the last year. I can’t say the same for Kova who seems to have learnt nothing about his requisite contribution towards McLaren’s bid for the Constructor’s championship.

    Good PR from Ham’s dad congratulating Button’s old man.

  16. so many winers so little common sense.

    no hamilton wasn’t the driver of the day (get off your british horse), yes its unfortunate that kubica and vettel collided but that racing, vettel had worn tires and they both are racing each other, it’s open wheel racing, it’s going to happen.

    penalty, sure its tough but that’s the game.

  17. IMO Vettel has been treated extremely harshly by the stewards re penalty for the actual collision, the penalty for not stopping being a different matter altogether.
    At the very least this was a 50/50 racing accident and merited no penalty whatsoever. At the very least!
    But if Kubica was so fast he was going to win (according to Theissen) he simply didn’t need to squeeze Vettel on that corner. Should have engaged brain and taken a well deserved second place.
    Speed-wise these two guys are clearly awesome. But why do BMW still use Heidfeld? Sorry, that’s obvious.

    1. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 12:59

      “Speed-wise these two guys are clearly awesome. But why do BMW still use Heidfeld? Sorry, that’s obvious.”

      Don’t forget that Heidfeld got a pretty big hit from Webber in the first corner. That’s why he was so far down the field today.

    2. Heidfeld was just as fast as Kubica all weekend. He narrowly missed Q3 by 0.1s. After the start he was caught up in Barrichello’s mess.

      Sam with Webber. He was faster than Vettel all weekend, but I guess something went wrong for him in Q3 and he was also taken out by Barrichello.

  18. John Spencer
    29th March 2009, 12:31

    I’ve seen the footage and read the posts and I’m still not sure. I would put it down to a racing accident. I’d but the blame on Vettel, but in his defence, there were collisions like this at Australia last year that went unpunished.

    But were the stewards swayed by Vettel’s immediate confession and apology? If he had acted a bit more like a typical F1 driver, and blustered that he had the inside line, Kubica turned in on him, left him no room, etc – would he have been treated more lightly?

    1. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 12:58

      If Vettel’s apology did have an effect on the decision then that’s very poor form from the stewards.
      Just as drivers often claim in the heat of the moment that they had no part in an incident, they also may claim that it was all their fault (as Vettel did).

  19. Yes I must admit that Vettels behavior was really top class. He felt he made a mistake and apologized all the people he let down.
    Still think both Kub&Vet are one of the best drivers on the track. I also have a thought that Kubica has really good pace when he has a clear track in front of him but isn’t very confident on the overtaking. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. Toby Thwaites 93
      29th March 2009, 13:03

      Yeah i would say your right on Kubica there, dont forget about how confident he is defending though (Japan 06&07 vs ferrari’s), top class driver

    2. you are wrong, see his chasing with massa from 2007 and many other overtakings

    3. Oh yeah baby, even today first few laps when Kubica was blocking Raikkonen. I’ve never seen anything like that before in F1. Brilliant stuff, top driver.

  20. My question is this, as i see the accidente is 50/50, Vettel has a mistake, and the Kubica does not give the pace nedeed 4 the german pilot. Vettel get’s 10 positions?
    What about Barrichelo in the 1st curve that with space and no path send’s 3 cars out and nothig happens?

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