Sebastian Vettel has apologised to Robert Kubica for colliding with him in the closing stages of the Australian Grand Prix.
Updated: The Red Bull driver has been reprimanded with a 10-place grid penalty for next week’s Malaysian Grand Prix as a result of the clash.
Vettel, who set a searing pace in qualifying to line up in third place, was struggling with the softer compound tyres in the closing stages of the race and the Red Bull driver found himself being hunted down by Kubica’s BMW Sauber.
When Kubica attempted to pass him around the outside of Turn 3 the pair collided and both crashed their cars at the following corners.
Kubica accused Vettel of being “too optimistic” in his defence of the corner and the German accepts that with hindsight he probably should have conceded the position and settled for third.
“We were in second and a strong position, but then, a couple of laps from the end, I had a stupid racing accident with Robert (Kubica),” recounts Vettel.
“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 no where to go, I couldn’t stop the car, or turn to the right and my tyres were gone. 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.”
“The team did a good job, we were working very hard over the winter and the car seems to be very good. We had good pace today, so overall we have a reason to smile.”
With home favourite Mark Webber also failing to finish as a result of a tangle at the first corner, Red Bull Racing leave Melbourne empty handed despite demonstrating a strong underlying pace.
“A totally gutting finish to what had been a superb race for Sebastian. He had good pace throughout and was trying to take the fight to (Jenson) Button,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.
“He drove an immaculate race, but I guess a racing accident with Kubica at the end on the soft tyre was always going to be marginal and we came within two laps of a great finish. Looking on the positive side, the pace of the car was very good.”
“It backed up our qualifying performance and we can take confidence into the next race in Malaysia in only a week’s time. Mark was unfortunately involved in an incident on the first lap which effectively destroyed his home race.”
“We elected to keep him running in order to put more mileage on the car. It was a great shame after such strong team work here and in Milton Keynes, the team didn’t deserve the finish we had today, but we’ll fight back next weekend.”