Vettel to replace Kubica at Indy

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BMW Sauber’s Sebastian Vettel will make his Formula One race debut at this weekend’s US Grand Prix after FIA medical staff advised Robert Kubica not to race following his high-speed crash in Canada.

Kubica suffered only concussion and a sprained ankle in the Montreal accident and told Thursday’s press conference at Indianapolis that he was feeling 100 percent. However, athough the FIA doctors largely agreed, they felt it unwise for the Polish driver to risk the chance of a second concussion in such a short space of time.

The decision means Vettel gets a race call-up, while fellow German tester Timo Glock becomes BMW Sauber’s reserve driver at Indy. Vettel, aged just 19, made several impressive third-driver outings with the team in Friday practice sessions last season and this season is competing in the World Series by Renault.

“Of course, I am looking forward to my first F1 race,” he said, “but I wish it had come under different circumstances. It’s never nice if a team mate can’t drive because he had an accident. For me the Indianapolis Speedway is unknown territory, but I have prepared myself for this situation and tomorrow I have two 90 minute practice sessions. I know the car very well as I have quite a lot of testing miles under my belt.”

Kubica is expected to return to the cockpit for the French Grand Prix on July 1, assuming he is given the all clear by medics ahead of the Magny-Cours race.

“Naturally I’m disappointed because I felt absolutely ready to race,” he said. “But I respect the decision. It was made because there is too much risk to let me race in this Grand Prix in case I have had another impact so soon after Montreal. I will go home now. I wish Sebastian all the best. It is good for him and I am pretty sure he will do a good job.”

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen added: “We respect the decision of the medical personnel. The team was prepared for this situation. Sebastian will receive all possible support from us and we hope for another good race here.”