Korean GP: Kamui Kobayashi sorry for Jenson Button crash

Kamui Kobayashi has accepted he was to blame for the crash which forced Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg to retire on the first lap of the Korean Grand Prix.

The Japanese was handed a drive-through penalty for hitting Rosberg and bouncing into Button before Turn Three.

"This is a race to forget," said Kobayashi, who held off Button to take his first podium at Suzuka last Sunday.

Korean GP facts

  • Track temperature: 23C
  • Air temperature: 21C
  • Fastest lap: Mark Webber (lap 54): 1min 42.037 secs
  • Fastest speeds:
  • Sector 1: Lewis Hamilton 286kph (177mph)
  • Sector 2 : Sebastian Vettel 189kph (117mph)
  • Sector 3 : Daniel Ricciardo 290kph (180mph)
  • Speed trap: Jean-Eric Vergne 201kph (196mph)

The mistake compounded a bad weekend for the Sauber driver who looks set to lose his seat in 2013.

"Someone hit my rear tyre and then it was impossible to control the car, but I had to brake at some point," Kobayashi added.

"I feel very sorry for ruining someone else's race, and certainly this was not my intention."

He later tweeted:  "It was my mistake at start accident, sorry for Jenson and Nico... Also to my team..."

In contrast, Nico Hulkenberg, one of the men who is set to join his Sauber team next season, had one of the best drives of his career.

Starting eighth, the German, who is in his second full season of Formula 1, had a race-long battle with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean before passing the Frenchman and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in one stunning move at Turn Four.

"It was quite surprising," said Hulkenberg of the move. "I had a big smile on my face and was cheering like I won a grand prix.

"I saw an opportunity coming, chose the right side and I hung in there."

Alonso optimistic on title chances

Grosjean, who avoided his eighth first-lap crash of the season, was simply pleased to finish the race, crossing the line in seventh.

"I've done a lot of work trying to understand a few things," he said. "I was struggling a bit on the last set of tyres, I got some graining and the performance was poor. But this is the way it is.

"I'm happy to be there at the end. It was a proper clean race and that's what we wanted."

Pole-sitter Mark Webber blamed a clutch issue at the start for losing the lead to Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

"The start didn't go to plan," said the Australian, who finished in second for the first time this season. "I had way too much wheelspin so we need to look into that. It's disappointing and ultimately that did not help the race.

"It was a bit frustrating that the DRS [overtaking aid] was not active because the yellow flags were out [while marshals cleared Rosberg's stricken Mercedes] at the start of the race."

FAST FACT

Sebastian Vettel took his 25th career victory in Korea, bringing him level with Jim Clark and Niki Lauda in seventh on the all-time list

Felipe Massa, who is widely expected to announce a deal to retain his seat at Ferrari next season, continued his rich vein of form with a fourth place finish, behind Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.

The Brazilian had strong pace throughout, at times lapping quicker than Alonso and both Red Bulls, but was told to hold station when he caught his Spanish team-mate as Alonso is still in contention for the title.

"The pace was very good and I'm very happy with the car," said Massa, who is one of two drivers to have finished in the points in each of the last five races.

"I managed to overtake cars at the start and the pace was good enough today to possibly finish on the podium. Knowing I did everything I could gave me a lot of pleasure."

Toro Rosso enjoyed what team principal Franz Tost described as their "strongest performance of the year".

Jean-Eric Vergne finished eighth ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who found the car pulling to the left in the closing stages which resulted in him losing a position to Vergne, to record their second double points finish of the year.

"This was definitely my best race of the year," said Vergne. "This track seemed to suit us well, which I think we can also expect to be the case in India."

Korean Grand Prix highlights