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Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 12:42 UK

Vettel gets 10-place grid penalty

Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel collide

Vettel and Kubica's race ends in collision

Sebastian Vettel has been demoted 10 grid places for next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix after his late crash with Robert Kubica in Melbourne.

Vettel and the BMW Sauber driver had to retire from the Australian Grand Prix following the collision with three laps left as they battled for second place.

Stewards also fined his Red Bull team £35,000 for telling him to continue.

Remorseful Vettel looked set for a podium finish, but the grid penalty will handicap the German in Malaysia.

"I had a stupid racing accident," Vettel said.

"I'm sorry to the team and also to Robert as it didn't just mean the end to my race but also his."

BMW motorsport director Mario Thiessen even claimed Kubica would have won the race ahead of eventual victor - Brawn GP's Jenson Button - had Vettel not caused the incident, which in an instant cost both teams dearly.

606: DEBATE

The 21-year-old German, who came to prominence after winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last year, had tracked Button right from the start on Sunday.

But, with only three laps remaining, the Red Bull driver was slow through the first two corners, allowing Kubica to get alongside on the outside on Turn Three.

In the key part of the incident, which race stewards deemed to be the German's fault, the Red Bull's front wheel tagged the rear wheel of the BMW after the Pole had given Vettel room.

The result was that both cars tipped into a spin, damaging their front wings before they each crashed further around the lap.

And Vettel - a former BMW driver - continued on the track with one front wheel hanging off his car in a doomed attempt to stay in the race, earning Red Bull a fine in the process.

"Sebastian braked early and I thought this is a clear cut situation," said Thiessen. "As I know him I thought he wouldn't do anything silly things.

BMW motorsport director Mario Thiessen

Vettel cost Kubica win - Thiessen

"It's been very disappointing for both drivers. We are very confident Robert had won because he had closed in on the hard tyres... both cars in front of him were struggling on the soft tyres.

"The upside is that the car was really quick. Robert was doing very quick laps on the hard tyres and that shows that we are on pace, which is good for the coming races."

Kubica himself agreed that Vettel's mistake had cost him the chance to try and catch Button.

"I had a chance to win this race," he said. "I think Sebastian was a bit too optimistic.

"Had this been the last corner okay, but there were still three laps to go and he really had no chance to defend his position because I was so much quicker."



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see also
Button seals dream Australia win
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Highlights - Australian Grand Prix
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Australian GP as it happened
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Australian Grand Prix photos
29 Mar 09 |  Formula 1


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