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Vettel rues lapse of judgment

AFTER trailing closely behind Australian Grand Prix race winner Jenson Button from the start, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel's chance at a podium finish vanished in a lapse of judgment with three laps to go when he collided with BMW's Robert Kubica.

"We were in a strong, strong position, but then a couple of laps from the end I had a stupid racing accident with Robert," Vettel said. "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 tire, so was much quicker."

Vettel started from third on the grid at Melbourne's Albert Park circuit, one spot ahead of Kubica. The German took advantage of a poor start from Button's Brawn GP teammate Rubins Barrichello to go second after the first turn.

Despite trailing by four seconds, the appearance of the safety car on the 18th lap closed the gap and gave the 21-year-old Vettel a chance at challenging for the lead.

As the race headed to a close Kubica, in third, attempted to pass Vettel on the outside heading into turn five.

Nowhere to go

"At the time we collided he was in front, but I had nowhere to go. I couldn't stop the car, or turn to the right and my tires were gone," Vettel said. "It was a shame as it meant the end of the race for both of us."

A stewards' inquiry after the race found that Vettel had caused the collision and forced Kubica off the track, penalizing him 10 places on the starting grid for this week's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"Maybe I should have let him go and bring third back home but that's life," he said.

Kubica said the incident may well have cost him the win. "I had a chance to win this race because I was on Jenson Button and Sebastien Vettel was on soft tires and struggling, while I was on the harder compound and was able to drive much quicker.

"We both had a great weekend up to this point and we leave Melbourne with nothing. That's a real shame."

Vettel was also fined US$50,000 for continuing on three wheels and failing to leave the track as soon as practicable after his car was damaged. Despite losing his front left wheel, Vettel continued to steer his car round the track for almost a full lap.


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