Four times world champion Sebastian Vettel has copped a five place grid penalty ahead of his start at the Spanish Grand Prix today. The Red Bull Racing driver was initially classified as 10th on the provisional grid for the start of the Catalunya race but has now been relegated to 15th place.
The #1 RBR stopped on the track partway through Q3 due to gearbox dramas. The German initially lost only second gear and was hoping to finish qualifying regardless, however the problem only worsened and forced his retirement. The team later found the issue necessitated a gear box replacement; as F1 regulations state that a gearbox must be used for six consecutive events, Vettel cops the grid drop penalty.
Red Bull are still unclear as to what caused the problem. Vettel has been beset with electrical issues, however a mechanical fault may also be at play. Earlier in the race weekend, the need to change the wiring loom denied him the chance to drive for most of Friday. Vettel had been hoping he could work through the gearbox problem to qualify well, but things did not to go plan.
“I left the pits in Q3 and selected first gear to leave then went up to second and I lost drive in second gear,” Vettel explained.
“I went to third and had third, so decided to keep on going without second gear.
“By Turn 1 I got stuck in fifth gear and couldn’t go up nor down so lost drive and had to stop.”
Vettel is now showing his frustration clearly, calling the reliability issues ‘boring’.
“With all these reliability issues it’s a bit disappointing, and now a bit boring. We’ve had all sorts of problems this year.”
Red Bull’s electrical problems may be due to a excessive heat from the exhaust system, which is piped differently to some rival vehicles to allow for their aerodynamics package. What is at the root of the gearbox issue remains to be seen, but it puts the defending world champion at a distinct disadvantage for the race this afternoon. He starts behind McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Gutiérrez, Daniil Kvyat, Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenburg.
Image via XPB Images