Sitting 45 points behind in the Drivers’ Championship fight and yet to record a win this season, the last thing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel needs at this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix is a grid penalty.

But the German is facing the prospect of dropping five places down the pack amid speculation he may need to change his gearbox for Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring.

Ferrari is reportedly investigating whether the gearbox suffered terminal damage at last fortnight’s European Grand Prix in Baku.

The Scuderia’s SF16-H racer has been unable to close the gap to Mercedes this year and their number-one driver hasn’t taken the top step of the podium since last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The team is said to have used another engine development token to change its MGU-K design with the aim of maximising engine performance at the high-altitude Austrian circuit.

The quadruple World Champion remains confident the battle with the Silver Arrows is not over.

“Here we expect to be competitive,” he said.

“We are pushing very hard and to be honest nothing has changed, we are not looking too much at what the others do, we are looking after ourselves, trying to improve where we need to improve, looking after our weaknesses, trying to focus on our strengths, then we see where this takes us.

“I think that closing the loop in all fields we made massive progress, I think more than anybody else has, so it’s a reason to be proud of, but surely what we are here for is winning races.”

Image via XPB Images

The following two tabs change content below.

Elle Haus

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Seasoned media and communications professional. Tropical traveller. Cocktail connoisseur.