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. …well then imagine it was one of them: Alonso, Kimi, Hamilton or Massa. What would you say? That Fernando/Kimi/Lewis/Felipe was brilliant but and young, still unexperienced Vettel ruined his dream!…What would you say?1

  2. I agree with Keith that Vettel and Kubica crashed in a normal racing incident… but I think Vettel deserved to be punished for not getting back to the pits when he had the chance… trying to finish the race with a three-wheeled car meant he ran in unsafe circunstances, putting all the other drivers in danger…

  3. Toby Thwaites 93
    29th March 2009, 18:00

    Im pretty sure Kubica had the racing line, i mean the corner is a right hander and so the drivers stay on the left (where kubica was) and turn into the right to hit the apex (where Vettel was) and the videos show that kubica was trying to do just this.
    Someone please correct me if im wrong

    1. If there is a car in the way, you don’t go for the apex.

    2. The racing line is on the inside of the corner.

  4. Kubica was in front of Vettel already ca. 95m before “red/white” starts and that gives ca 110 to the point of collision. Vettel had more than 2 sec to think about it and avoid “touch”. Vettel did have enough “space” to turn knowing Kubica was all the distance (100m of braking) before him. Kubica took a risk and left Vettel exactly what he expected of driving skills of Red Bull mate. Friends…I will repeat myself from first post… Imagine, that was Alonso/Hamilton/Kimi/Massa driving hed to hed with Vettel…what would you say?

  5. …sorry for my English…some letters are missing after “submit comment” push.

  6. I believe the nature of the mentioned penalty is saying the Vettel should have lifted.

    I worry about something different, though; in the past, such a tap would have had wheels falling off of both cars nearly instantly- why didn’t the cars break in the corner where the contact happened?

  7. swaveck… looks like the topic isn’t going to be closed until someone forces it closed.

    it was, and discussion is futile, a simple racing incident. the grid drop is typical of f1 stewards meddling. first the FIA makes rules to promote tight racing with lots of overtaking, which i love. then they punish people when it happens.

    each point presented to say it was either KUB or VET at fault, i can rebut with little effort. as for the feathering of the braking. all drivers do that on every hard-braking turn entry, escecially with the outlawing of ABS. above a certain speed, your tires can handle all forces presented to them by the brakes dissipating energy. as speed goes down quickly under braking, downforce decreases making the car ‘go light’ so the tires tend to lock up, hence you feather the brake to remain in control. had VET not done that, then he would have understeered into KUB at the apex rather than after it.

    in fact the explanation of the braking technique is not complete. there’s also a little physics involved: kinetic energy vs. traction budget but that would be way beyond scope for a post such as this.

    good luck closing the argument, i’ll help keep it alive but by invitation only :-)

    btw, superb race this morning!

  8. Kubica had only a couple of laps left to catch & pass Button so he had to go for it, and with a mistake from Vettel in Turn 1 it was the ‘perfect’ opportunity.

    Vettel was falling back due to the Super-softs going off and in hindsight should probably have let Kubica go and perhaps have consolidated third place. But he’s a young charger and a racer and the decision to hold his ground was the 2nd mistake he made that lap. Because of Vettel’s rush of blood and Kubica’s impatience in getting past we were slightly robbed of a Button vs Kubica final lap showdown!

    In my books, it was a racing incident and I believe that there were no reasons for the Stewards to get involved (although it was right to fine Red Bull for telling Vettel to keep going with a strickened car, which could have wrecked someone else’s race). A 10-place grid penalty for Vettel is too great a penalty in my view. The loss of a possible 2nd/3rd/4th place would have been penalty enough.

    I also think that such naive honesty from Vettel should be commended, especially in an environment of big egos, he had big enough shoulders to apologise to the team instead of being bitter about getting squeezed by Kubica.

    Great GP. Overtaking in F1 = w00t. We’re in for a great year!

  9. Won’t really comment on the accident that much. For me it’s clearly a racing incident, 50/50. Ofc VET understeered into KUB, nobody denies that. But if Kub left VET a bit more space, maybe nothing would have happened. IMO he didn’t even had to pass Vettel on that corner, since he would have been on the inside line for the next corner. It was a high-risk maneuver, and Kub decided to take the risk. He could have waited, you know :S
    But boy oh boy, there’s a lot of i-know-it-better-than-you (all of a sudden ppl know where and how much Vettel braked?!) and fanboyism going on after that race, as you can see after reading these comments.
    Not only all of a sudden almost everybody is jumping on the BrawnGP bandwagon (not necessarily readers of this blog, but e.g. a lot of my british facebook friends are all of a sudden rooting for BrawnGP) and ofc they always believed in Button (yeah, right, that’s why almost no-one cared about him in the last 3-4 years), but also that “gotta be fan of my countryman” behaviour is a pain in my neck. Did I enjoy the race, although there was no German on the podium? Hell yeah, it was terrific, Button had a great race, as did Hamilton. Buemi did a nice job, too. I don’t need to be British or Swiss to acknowledge that, i just wanna see good racing. I think sometimes ppl get worked up way too much because their favorite driver is involved in sth. On the one hand it’s nice to have some passion for sth, but at some point it gets ridiculous. As seen in this discussion. Your opininion isn’t the be all, end all. Sometimes a IM(H)O helps ;)
    – Gerdoner, German, Mika Salo Fan ;)

  10. Well this is what Bernie wanted to see right? racing for the win -hence the ‘medals’ proposal. Vettel is a racing driver, he was hungry to prove himself and hold 2nd place. At speed/in the heat of the moment he obviously hesitated in letting Kubica by, when the possibility of holding the inside still seemed viable. I put it down to a split-second misjudgment that happened to have critical consequences.

    After encouraging ‘racing for the win’ and overtaking, I think to penalize him for this again sets a bad precedent and is inconsistent- so many other incidents like this go unpunished? ridiculous.
    The fine is just however.

  11. @Keith.

    Yes. Or the Michael Schumacher / Montoya incident at Imola back in 2004. Montoya taking Michael around the outside, though giving Michael the chance to run him wide and onto the grass. It is always risky trying to pass on the outside, as the defending driver can always force you back across the racetrack.
    The inside line is always more preferable, and if executed correctly, gives the defending driver less options. It is understandable, three laps from the end, what the mindsets of these two drivers were.
    Vettel had put in a superb performance, yet was on the wrong tyres and the worst possible moment, and knew that Kubica was faster. You only have to look at poor old Nico Rosberg to see how badly the super soft compound went off when undergoing the degrading process.
    Vettel just simply did not want to see is hard work dashed at the last. Kubica on the other hand, with the hard compound tyres, knew full well Vettel’s predicament, and had no alternative put to go for it. The Red Bull was handling so poorly, that Vettel was really just easy meat for Kubica, but as Martin Brundle said ‘these are just two hungry young men’.

  12. The SPEED guys put it around 50-50 blame for both drivers, and that’s what it looked like to me. It was a classic “racing incident”- these things happen in the course of such an event. I’m sure Robert wasen’t happy about the whole thing, but I also don’t think Vettel deserved the penalty he’s gotten.

  13. I agree with Brundle, to me it looked like a simple 50-50 racing incident. I think Vettel accepted blame to easily, he’d have been better to say nothing. With regards to the $50,000 fine for driving around on three wheels – I know it’s a long time ago, but didn’t Michael Schumacher do that at Spa ’98 after he hit Coulthard? I don’t remember him getting a fine for that.

  14. Swaveck

    When I talked of Kubica making sure Vettel couldn’t continue with the race, I’m talking about the second contact. Kubica knew his car was damaged but didn’t know to what extent, but he then tried to drive Vettel into the wall. Nonetheless, Vettel did have much of the responsibility for the accident, as he was not on the racing line. Other drivers had been passed under similar conditions and had conceded their position.

  15. Its amazing the number of psychologists we have in here. Who can look into a drivers mind and state what he’s thinking even if the driver himself is admitting something else. And all this done from thousands of mile away via text.
    Spot on to those who noticed Vettel braked very early then accelerated into Kubica. If Kubica had given Vettel more room, I am almost certain we would still have had an accident, as Vettel would have tried to push him wide also.
    I will just put it down to a momentary lapse in concentration on the part of Vettel. Kubica would have seen him braking early and thinking he had conceded, only to be surprised by the impact, hence his anger as he later tried to force Vettel into the wall (Secondary impact).

    1. I fail to see Kubica force Vettel into the wall- as i see it he gets shoved horizontally and then accelerates away as he straightens the car, not much else he could have done right?
      But like you say, no-one but they themselves will ever know what they were thinking, so all this hypothesizing is prob. futile

    2. Oliver & Kallan… the Internet, and Forums/Blogs in particular, are a great place where like minded people can come together and air their views, pass opinion, cast judgement if they must, and argue the toss, much like going down the pub with your mates.

      Nobody is 100% right, nobody is 100% wrong, nobody really cares, its just great banter we wouldn’t otherwise have.

      ps. Vettel didn’t accelerate into Kubica, he just eased off the brakes while K was still braking hard… and K certainly did not intentionally force V into the wall (well I hope not anyway). Also, V would have been well within his rights to push K wide on the exit as long as he gave him enough track space and didn’t push him off onto the grass. Its called racing… something a lot of people seem to have forgotten the meaning of.

  16. I thought it was just a racing incident that a few years ago may have earned a telling off from the stewards. I would have said that Vettel was more to blame but not enough to warrant any penalty. After all that went on last year though I am disappointed but not surprised that Vettel has been punished.

    I think because Vettel is a nice guy he has been taking more of the blame than he should have, I bet most of the drivers on the grid wouldn’t even have owned up to making a mistake even if privately they believed they were in the wrong.

  17. I was very happy to see the BMW chopping time so fast with 5 laps to go, but I also knew that it is very easy for Robert yo get in over his head. This is the third race he has thrown away by trying to hard from third place
    (I will take 6points over 0 anyday), he is a good driver but its little things like this that make him and Hamilton chancey bets. That race was his to win and he blew it he could have waited and passed him outta turn 5 and would have then been able to push for victory and he could have make up the 2.139 secs in the next 2.5 laps. The Brawns are not faster on the straights as we saw the second car being passed twice on the main straight

  18. According to F1.com, the stewards decided to penalise Vettel for ‘causing a collision and forcing a driver off the track’.

    Clearly they didn’t bother looking at the replay much, as Kubica only got a couple of tyres on the grass, and at that point, Vettel was well and truly off the track. Were the stewards implying that Vettel was *pulling* Kubica off the road? :)

    If you look at the tyre marks on the entry to the corner, Kubica seems to follow these very closely, implying that he hardly changed from the standard line. Furthermore, the freeze-frame of Vettel losing his front wing whilst almost still having his front wheel on the inside kerb says a lot of Kubica’s lack of space given. Despite all this, I still think it was pretty 50-50. Vettel wouldn’t have lost much downforce at that instant due to the slow speed anyway.

    What really bugs me is that I basically believe Vettel was penalised effectively because he’s such a refreshingly nice, honest chap. Who happened to be overly harsh on himself. But the stewards must be objective, and look at the video, not just listen to driver testimonies. One of the key differences between this scenario and a road traffic accident is that this was filmed from several angles, so the drivers’ statements are of relatively lesser importance, even if self-incriminating.

    I also thought it ironic that Hamilton’s action led to Trulli’s penalty. The reason for that action, of letting Trulli by, was to avoid that very penalty, due to his pananoia following some harsh decisions against him in the past. Can’t blame him. Effectively, what they should have done is both park up, say, “After You,” and test how long their engines can last… They couldn’t just ask Charlie Whiting to clarify, as he is not a steward, so is not the authority on the matter, as Hamilton found out in Spa…

  19. All this leads me to believe that this is the type of racing that we will see under the ‘Winner Take All’ method of rewarding the drivers that Bernie has suggested. Final few laps with this sort of aggression and accidents resulting in handing out constructor points to the ‘lucky’ ones not involved. Easily avoidable accident, though the stewards should not have apportioned any blame on either driver. Normal racing incident.

  20. Dougie
    Take a look at the accident again.After Kubica was forced into a spin, he did drive into Vettel. Its like a football player throwing a leg at the opponent who brought him down.

    1. Hi Oliver, having watched the footage again (on the BBC as no longer available here) I don’t feel Kubica deliberately drove into Vettel. The fronts were locked together and Kubicas BMW skipped round on its back wheels, both still had their foots in. Not deliberate at all.

      I also firmly believe 100% racing incident, no driver can be singled out for this one, both played their part.

      I don’t understand what the authorities that be want from these decisions but it won’t be true racing that’s for sure.

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