Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi wasted no time in making an impression on his return to Formula 1, ploughing his Caterham into the back of Felipe Massa’s Williams as they entered the first corner of the Australian Grand Prix.
The mishap took both cars out of the race instantly, leaving Brazilian Massa fuming on his aborted debut for his new team and Kobayashi red-faced in his first race back after a year on the sidelines.
The former Sauber driver, popular with crowds for his daring and willingness to overtake, joined Caterham after agreeing to race without a salary and pay $1 million raised from fans through online donations.
Massa, who joined from Ferrari at the end of last year, seethed at the Japanese before Caterham absolved their driver by recognising that the car had suffered a brake problem.
“It’s difficult to find a word to say what’s happened. starting the first race of the season…you cannot do anything,” said the Brazilian.
“It’s even dangerous. I think what he did in this race is not so different than what [Romain] Grosjean did in Spa and he took a race ban,” added the 32-year-old, referring to the French Lotus driver who caused carnage at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix with an aggressive start.
“So it’s dangerous and you cannot do that. I’m sorry, but you cannot do that.”
Williams Technical Chief Pat Symonds denounced the collision as “sheer madness” on the part of Kobayashi.
An investigation later cleared the 27-year-old, who tweeted: “Find out system fail was no rear brake so this was problem of accident. Sorry to Felipe but was not my mistake.”
He added in his post race review, “That isn’t how I wanted my first race back to go, and I’m sorry for the team and for Felipe that both our races ended early.”
“I had a really good start but then into turn one I made contact with Felipe. From the initial data it looked like I had a brake system issue which obviously meant I couldn’t do much about the contact and when we got the car back and looked at the information in much more detail it was clear that was the problem.”
“After the race I went to the Stewards and they went through the data from the car and confirmed that this was the case. We’ll have a close look at what caused that problem and make sure we fix it,” concluded Kobayashi. (Reuters_GP247)
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