Vettel: I don’t know why I was asked to stop
3 November, 2012
Nov.3 (GMM) Sebastian Vettel’s run of superb form came to a grinding halt in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, although he qualified third on the grid he came to a stop on the side of the track, before hitching a lift back to the pits in the safety car.
Note: Vettel was relegated to the back of the grid for a fuel irregularity after qualifying. Report here>>>
But it has been far from smooth sailing in the desert heat. Red Bull is struggling to keep up with pole sitter Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, and Vettel was also outpaced on Saturday afternoon by his own teammate, Mark Webber.
Earlier, Vettel was stuck in the pits for most of the important third practice session with a serious brake problem. He explained, “It’s probably some problem. It shouldn’t be something major. This morning wasn’t ideal not being able to run.”
A few hours later, right at the end of qualifying, he pulled to the side of the track under the hotel complex and hitched a lift with safety car.
“I don’t know why,” he said. “I was asked to stop.”
Team boss Christian Horner revealed that engine, KERS and alternator supplier Renault ordered the stoppage, but paddock speculation suggested that Vettel may have simply run out of fuel — which could cause him to be sent right to the back of Sunday’s grid.
“There was a request [from Renault] but at the moment I don’t know why,” Horner told the BBC.
It should be noted that Renault’s problems with its 2012 spec alternators have been well documented, and the French marque’s Remy Taffin confirmed in Abu Dhabi that an all-new specification will not be ready to debut until Austin.
“That’s the work we’ve achieved so far, that’s where we are,” he said on Friday. Technical troubles aside, Vettel is the championship contender looking most under pressure in Abu Dhabi, with commentators saying he made more mistakes on Saturday than he has for several entire race weekends.
Asked on Saturday about Vettel’s problems in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari’s Alonso admitted: “In terms of our championship hopes, it always helps.”
The Spaniard will start seventh on the grid.
Subbed by AJN.