Sebastian Vettel's title hopes took another setback in Malaysia after an engine problem halted him from qualifying for Sunday's Grand Prix. While on an out lap in Q1, the German reported that he had lost drive, and limped back to the pits for inspection.
The Ferrari mechanics frantically attempted to fix the car, after they had spent the two hours in between FP3 and qualifying changing his engine. Vettel looked set to return to the circuit, but switched off the car after it was deemed too unhealthy to drive.
Speaking to Sky F1 in the media pen, Vettel said: "It's part of motor racing. For sure, it's not ideal, it's not what we want, especially on a day where you feel that you've got it in you, you've got it in the car but we won't be able to prove that. It's a pretty bad day."
In the final practice session this morning, Vettel had another issue with the engine. The mechanics were able to fix it quickly, but Ferrari decided to perform an engine change as a precaution. The four-time world champion still thinks it was the right thing to do.
"Definitely," he said when asked was it right to change the engine. "We need to see now what was the problem but we managed the change successfully in time - the guys pulled off a miracle and worked like crazy. It's a shame that we couldn't get out."
Ferrari spoke about the problem, with team principal Maurizio Arrivabene saying that the issue was related to "the airflow connecting the engine to the turbo". Ferrari spokesman Alberto Antonini went into further detail about why Vettel was forced to pull out of qualifying.
"It seems when he was out on his preparation lap he didn't feel the right amount of power in the engine," he said. "The reason for that, we really have to investigate. Unfortunately the time was too tight to do so at the end of the session.
"We have to know exactly whether it was something wrong with the settings, or if a piece in the system didn't work as it was supposed to. Obviously we have nothing to lose if we start at the back of the grid tomorrow."
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