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

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.

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

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  1. The Limit said on 30th March 2009, 2:59


    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’.

  2. Gman said on 30th March 2009, 3:09

    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.

  3. RedGreen said on 30th March 2009, 5:07

    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.

  4. Oliver said on 30th March 2009, 8:28


    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.

  5. Oliver said on 30th March 2009, 8:52

    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).

    • Kallan said on 30th March 2009, 9:39

      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

    • Dougie said on 30th March 2009, 10:14

      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.

  6. 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.

  7. Pablo M said on 30th March 2009, 15:25

    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

  8. Bruce said on 30th March 2009, 21:56

    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…

  9. 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.

  10. Oliver said on 30th March 2009, 22:36

    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.

    • Dougie said on 30th March 2009, 23:13

      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.

  11. Racing incident!!! The resulting penalty is just the kind of thing that nearly made me boycott F1 last year.
    Lets get some perspective here: these two men are racers. They are both in the heat of battle. Nobody did anything dangerous or reckless. Racing incident! Retrospectivly it is very easy to say, ” oh Kubica/Vettel should have done this”, but that’s missing the point. Also, one thing that really annoys me after these kinds of racing incidents is when you commenters try and defend a driver (Kubica in this case) by essentially saying (I’m paraphrasing here) “well X driver was so much faster than Y driver so he should have realised this and let him through”. Let me repeat: Racing drivers. It was a similar thing with the Hamilton/ Raikkonen incident at spa last year – I bet it was those same people here who said that Hamilton was so much faster so he should have just held back and waited instead of attacking at the first corner. Anyway, I’m digressing nad losing the point of what I was originally trying to say. And my blood pressure’s getting up :)

  12. The Limit said on 31st March 2009, 1:28


    Well pointed out. The onboard shots from Kubica’s car clearly showed Vettel braking first into the corner. I have to admit, when I first saw the footage, it looked like Vettel had conceded.
    The Windtunnel show on Speed Tv suggested that maybe Red Bull should have ‘ordered’ Vettel to concede, as
    obviously Kubica was faster. However, very difficult for both team and driver to make that call with so much at stake.
    The simple fact is that it was three laps from the end, and had up until then been the dream start to Vettel’s career with Red Bull’s A team. They didn’t want to lose track position, and neither did Vettel.

    @. Jim.

    100% right. Both drivers made mistakes, but that is what makes life interesting. In any sport you have to apply pressure to a rival in order to force a mistake.
    More often than not, it pays off. Hamilton and Raikkonen both forced each other into making errors during last years race, as have Vettel and Kubica this time out. I like you cannot see the point in trying to stiffle this aspect of motor racing. If Hamilton had made all of his racing moves in the pits, would he have finished the race where he did?
    Ofcourse not, and the other drivers are no different. Two destroyed motor cars, no points, and two very cheesed off team owners will be penalty enough for Vettel and Kubica. They have been punished enough, as have we, with these nonsense penalties.
    If a driver delibrately endangers the fans, marshals, or fellow drivers by his actions, then that is different. Everything else should be par for the course.

  13. Polak said on 31st March 2009, 7:50

    The Limit, well spoken “Two destroyed motor cars, no points, and two very cheesed off team owners will be penalty enough for Vettel and Kubica.”

    Vettel made some mistakes that caused his already slower car to loose time. Kubica was probably told on the radio that he has a mathematical chance for a win. With that in mind it seems logical that Kubica went for the overtake. It wasn’t for 2nd it was for 1st. Vettel had just a split second to make up his mind. He chose to defend and quickly realized that he didn’t have the grip to do so. Hot blood on both drivers. Respect to Vettel and Kubica. It was a great show, but a shame that they got replaced by BAR and HAM.

    Also when Vettel admitted fault, I think its because he blamed himself for thinking he can hold his line and defend when in fact he didn’t have the grip. Racing period.

  14. wasiF1 said on 1st April 2009, 4:22

    I do believe it was a racing incident.Sory 4 vettrel,but what a start 4 d season.It shows RedBull has d pace,i will tip them 4 a win somewhere in d season

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