Formula One: Kobayashi cleared over Aussie crash

The car of Caterham-Renault driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan veers off the track during an accident at the start of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16, 2014. Kobayashi was cleared of any blame over a first-lap crash at
The car of Caterham-Renault driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan veers off the track during an accident at the start of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16, 2014. Kobayashi was cleared of any blame over a first-lap crash at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, March 16, 2014, after an investigation discovered a brake failure. -- PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Japan's Kamui Kobayashi was cleared of any blame over a first-lap crash at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after an investigation discovered a brake failure.

The Japanese, in his first race for Caterham, ploughed into the back of Felipe Massa's Williams at turn one in an incident which ended the season-opening grand prix for both drivers.

Massa later called for Kobayashi to be given a one-race ban over the crash, the same punishment handed to Lotus's Romain Grosjean after a similar incident at Belgium in 2012.

But after reviewing technical data, stewards found the crash was caused by a "serious technical failure completely outside the control of the driver".

Kobayashi had initially accepted blame, but after the investigation he said: "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.

"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 this was the case. We'll have a close look at what caused that problem and make sure we fix it."