Vettel rues loss of Friday running

Sebastian Vettel

A power unit problem in the final minutes of Free Practice 1 left Sebastian Vettel with a total of just 18 laps to his name on the opening day of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

The Aston Martin driver crawled to a halt late on in the opening 60-minute hit out with smoke emanating from the engine cover.

Though, he was able to quickly use a marshals extinguisher to smother that before it caught alight.

However, a delay in having the car returned to the team, and the complication of Friday’s sessions being separated by just two hours, meant there wasn’t sufficient time to rectify the issue.

“Obviously, we had a problem and there was a bit of smoke and I lost power and we had to stop the car on the track,” Vettel said.

“I did the best I could to limit the damage and get it off the track as soon as possible.

“[It] stopped our running, which was painful, and unfortunately also cost us the whole session in the afternoon, which is not ideal.

“I haven’t been in the car for a while, plus the track is different. It will be fine tomorrow, but it would have been nice to get more laps.”

Vettel has been out of the car since the end of the Bahrain pre-season test last month, having sat out the first two rounds of the championship after testing positive for coronavirus.

“It was good to be back in the car, it felt more or less where we left it in Bahrain,” the German said.

“Obviously, some bits changed and a lot of work since then, you know, different tracks, so it was a bit of both getting myself back in the rhythm, getting too used to the new layout here.”

Following the conclusion of Friday’s track action, Vettel visited the stewards after he rode a scooter back from his stricken Aston Martin to the pits at the end Free Practice 1, allegedly entering the track without permission.

The four-time world champion reported to the stewards at 17:45 AEST, but no judgement has been published at time of writing.

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