Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of a fifth Word Championship were further dashed after a bizarre incident at the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix which could see him slapped with a five-place grid penalty at this weekend’s race at Suzuka.

After a stellar drive storming his way from the back of the grid up to fourth, the German made contact with the Williams of Lance Stroll on the in-lap, resulting in possible damage to the gearbox that may require a replacement.

Whilst the Stewards rules neither driver was “wholly or predominantly” at fault, Vettel pointed the finger firmly at the Canadian rookie.

“I went on the outside to pick up a bit of rubber — I think Lance wasn’t looking and wanted to do the same, but that was too late, I was there already and we had contact,” he said after the race.

“That’s completely unnecessary. I think he just didn’t look and then decided to pick up some rubber. It’s not my fault if somebody decides to pick up rubber and hit my car.”

Stroll, on the other hand, appeared confused by what had occurred.

“It was the in-lap, I was just driving very slowly back into the pit lane,” Stroll said. “Just a very strange incident. The race wasn’t going on so it wasn’t intentional from either of us.”

Race fans, however, remained split on who was to blame and debated raged just as it had in Singapore when Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Max Verstappen all collided into Turn 1.

The Ferrari driver caused further controversy by removing the steering wheel from his car and hitching a ride back to the pits on the sidepod of Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber – both are against the rules, although the Stewards overlooked these infractions.

The wheels are falling off – both literally and metaphorically – for Vettel who has appeared unsettled and off his game recently. He now trails Lewis Hamilton by 34 points in the Drivers’ Championship standings with only five races remaining.

Image via LAT

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Elle Haus

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