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

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. Hamilton, driver of the race. Sure the SC helped him out, but he was driving one of the worst cars on the grid and he nearly got onto the podium! Completely unexpected compared to a Brawn 1-2 which was obvious considering their pace.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      29th March 2009, 10:01

      I dunno mate, he was mightily impressive but what about Vettel!!! He was mighty all race long! Or Trulli, he started behind Lew and finished in front.

      But yeah Lewis was a lot better then I expected. I was expecting a sulk and a prang, not in that order.

    2. dont know how you could call that. the toyotas started behind and outpaced him. there’s plenty of winners in that race none of them i’d call hamilton.

  2. Bit of both on this one for sure. Vettel for braking too late on his slippery softs and Kubica not giving any room for error.
    Kubica was on fire though last part of the race.

  3. Pedro Andrade
    29th March 2009, 9:14

    Just a correction Keith: the last race to end behind the safety car was Canada 1999.

  4. both made mistakes, it could be great season start for them, but anyway it was a great race!

  5. poor KUBICA, he was going so fast and trying so hard but made the mistake. it shows the speed of the BMW.

  6. hitchcockm00
    29th March 2009, 9:30

    They were both equally to blame for the first crash and both equally stupid for now slowing down for the next turns.

    Just showed a replay on the BBC forum thing and it looked like Vettel went off trying to avoid a piece of Kubica’s wing in turn 5.

    1. hitchcockm00
      29th March 2009, 9:31


  7. kubica just too fast and vettel didn’t pull back…its a 50 50 error from both driver….i really love to them both in podium..but yay from brawn gp..well deserved 1-2 !!!!

  8. what a shame. KUB was flying and #1 was within his reach. wondering why Vettel was going so much slower on that last lap before the crash.
    looks like bmw has a good car this year or Kubica’s skills are superior as he has no KERS and no diffuser.

  9. hitchcockm00
    29th March 2009, 9:32

    Vettel, Kubica, Trulli and Hamilton are all seeing the stewards.

  10. Apparently the stewards are investigating the incident and have summoned both drivers.

  11. Vettel drove a very good race today. The Red Bull ran second when it didn’t deserve to. A bit too ambitious from Kubika I feel.

  12. christopher
    29th March 2009, 9:40

    awful job on Kubica’s part. surely he could have easily passed coming off a corner onto a straight? what a waste of 2 fantastic drives.

  13. poor KUBICA? plizz, make that “stupid KUBICA!” He had a race win in his sights and couldn’t control himself to give Vettel enough room so he could take him on the next run!

    Anyway, great and mature drive for Hamilton, my driver of the day considering the car. He is the only one of the none “diffuser gang” in the top five, and overtook some cars i never expected him to come close to. Notably he outpaced Alonso who arguably was in a better car.

    Happy for the Brawn pair and Brawn himself. They didn’t look as devastating as expected but still brought the one-two home and for a rookie team that was a great result. Nonetheless, it will be hard for them to hold onto that dominance.

    Great result for Buemi and STR who continue punching well above their weight. Overall, a great race!

  14. think brundle called it spot on, vettel put a wheel on kerb exiting previous corner allowing kubica who was on a mission to put himself in an overtaking position. I think if vettel had a bit more experience he would have conceded and been happy with 3rd. Cant blame he for trying though he had a good race up till then.

  15. All that is the fault of the wider front wings as was being speculated after the rules change. It was quite a bit of a problem in the start also.

    1. yes, but they’ll get used to them. It’s only the first race and the drivers should be good enough to adapt their driving to suit.

  16. Zarathustra
    29th March 2009, 9:50

    Vettel error which he was admit and go to BMW box to say sorry for Kubica.
    Let’s forget it, they both were today awesome.

    But still I feel sorry for Robert, 1st place was in the reach cause Vettel and Button drive on soft not good tires in the end.

  17. chaostheory
    29th March 2009, 9:51

    Vettel had enough room but his soft tires didnt had that much grip that is how he ended on Kubicas rear right wheel. Normal race accident not mistake like those two mistakes by Rubens when he was ramming Raikkonen and someone else…

    1. One mistake by Rubens. The first he was clipped from behing by Heikki.

  18. I can’t believe Vettel has apologised to Theissen. Don’t get me wrong it’s not like Vettel didn’t have a part in that mess.

    But for someone lapping 2 seconds faster surely Kubica would have took him on the next couple of turns, it was very arrogant of Kubica to squeeze Vettel and leave no room.

    Former employer or not, I wouldn’t have apologised and would have told Mario where he can stick his opinion on the incident!

    1. Indeed. I’m starting to worry that Vettel is just too nice to be a WDC!

      I think he’s comprimised himself, like Brundle said on the BBC coverage. Next time they are side by side, I can’t see how it’s going to be a fight.

  19. Am I the only one to notice how close Kubicas tyre came to his head!

  20. A driver with a bit more experience would have known when to concede. Although its hard for racers to have a clear head when there is so much to gain. It did seem like Kubica wanted to make sure Vettel could not continue with the race.

    1. Oliver.. that sounds for me a bit like a conspiracy theory. Where can you see Kubica raming Vetel? What makes you think he wanted to put him out of the race? That was a very clear overtaking manoeuvre with plenty space for Vettel to brake down. The problem was – Vettel was not interested in braking down even if he knwe there is no space for him. And honestly I can see VET hiting KUB rather than KUB hitting VET. Can not understand your weird suspicious. Please be objective, ot at least try to be. We all have seen this race.

    2. you have just get a BBC judgement as a undisputed true. Take look on video from the heli camera – PLENTY of space to brake down for Vettel. But to brake down you need to bush brake pedal. Otherwise it may not work.

    3. Vettel actually started braking before Kubica.

      If I was Robert, I would have left him more room – but it’s of course easy to say sitting here at my keyboard – they had just done about 55 laps of the race.

  21. 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 :)

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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. stop the video one sek earlier


    5. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. @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…

  31. @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.

  32. 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.