Unreliability costs Vettel another win

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For the second race in a row Sebastian Vettel took pole position and led convincingly – until his car failed.

After the race he rued that his car problems meant he only has 12 points when he should have 50. Are Red Bull’s reliability problems going to cost him a shot at the championship?

Vettel’s exit from the race on lap 25, while he was leading from Jenson Button, seems to have been caused by brake failure.

At Bahrain two weeks ago he was leading comfortably when his car slowed with an exhaust problem.

Before the season began Red Bull designers Adrian Newey took the decision to miss the first test session of the year in order to spend more time developing the RB6.

With its low-slung exhausts and rumoured clever ride height-controlling device it is clearly the quickest car in F1 at the moment. Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.

Newey has some form in producing cars that are very quick but not always reliable – a trait that famously dogged the 2005 McLaren MP4-20 – and it looks like that could be the case with the RB6.

The team could be playing the long game in this 19-round championship. The points system now favours a car that sacrifices a little reliability in the pursuit of performance. With winning a race worth more compared to finishing second than before they may be able to afford the odd DNF providing they win the races they finish.

But even so Vettel will be anxious that his run of car failures doesn’t last any longer. It’s true that he was as much to blame for his finishing record last year as the car was, but so far this year it looks like the RB6 that’s letting him down.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Unreliability costs Vettel another win”

  1. “Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the front row of the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix.”

    Dont you mean Australian?

    Hopefully the cars reliability will improve so that Mark and Seb can both have a decent shot at the championships.

    1. Sorry, thinking one race ahead!

      1. So you went to the psychic and got the Malaysian Qualy results ey Keith? :P

  2. I can’t ever remember Red Bull locking out the front row in Malaysia.

    1. I can believe that, because this was the first front row lockout for RedBull as such, here in Australia.

  3. If Vettel fails to finish the next race Webber should give him the unlucky crown he received from Alesi.

  4. Red Bull must be so quick their cars can travel forwards in time.

    p.s you’ve now ruined the fun for next weeks Qaulifying

    1. you make me laugh lol

    2. vettel smashed the 2004 lap record. but that was in quali…

      1. Does that count in the record books? Or it must be fastest lap in the race?

  5. For all we know these problems might have already cost him the championship, you just cant afford to have DNFs in F1 any more.

    1. With a more lenient points system, you can possibly afford one or two. That’s also providing that your championship rivals also have problems.

      1. Actually the current system is a more lenient to DNF’s than previous year’s system. Not as much as the 10-6-4-3-2-1, but still.

        If Vettel manages to win a lot of races then, even if Alonso finishes 2nd, he will gain more points back on them.

        The gap between first and second is now 28% where last year it was only 20%.

  6. How many times will we see this? It really made me think of Raikkonnen in the MP4-20 going blisteringly fast only to have the chassis or engine giving up on him.

    On the other hand, that is the fun of having several constructors trying different strategies to get to the crown.

  7. As a Vettel fan it’s gutting to see reliability is going to cost him the title again. He should have won the first race and this one…

    He will get pole next week but again something will go wrong in the race, they really need a good sort out of this car if they are going to win races.

    1. Exactly! Even though I’m a McLaren fan truth must be told Vettel deserves a car that can translate their sheer speed into the race as well and not just quali.. He could pull of a JB and win a series of races if he has a reliable car.. Can’t help but feel sorry for him.. It’s funny that HRT finished their first race when the fastest car didn’t..

  8. Yeah Vettel had a real chance to get back at the Ferarris today after Alonso’s spin at the start. I’d say it could have been a cooling issue that caused the brake to fail because Melbourne isn’t particularily hard on the brakes

    1. As a point-of-information, according to F1Fanatic’s own site – break wear is high at Melbourne.

  9. Bigbadderboom
    28th March 2010, 13:21

    I fear that Vettels reliability issues may be self induced to a degree, he is very hard on his car, and any vulnerability will always emerge under those extremes. Theres no blaming renault this year, but Horner was very quick to lay the blame at the brake disc supplier for this failure, just bad luck? I think theres more to it!
    It was interesting to see that M Whitmarsh thought McLaren had Vettel covered over race distance, possibly on pace to include tyre degragation, but should Vettel had gone the distance I doubt Button would had got passed without giving his own set a serious scrub!

    1. Webber came in for new tyres. Perhaps they would have called Vettel in too?

      Although, just like with Button, if Vettel was comfortably in the lead, they could have waited things out.

      Again we lost a battle for the lead though.

  10. wong chin kong
    28th March 2010, 13:21

    It was kind of funny that Mclaren pointed out the very low ride height of Red Bulls after the qualifying and Red Bull denying active suspension system. I could only speculate that the Red Bull car is poorly design for reliability, perhaps generating too much heat overcooking the spark plugs and brakes? Sure the design gives Red Bull top of the grid placing, tremendous race pace but so what if their cars cannot reach the finishing line.

    1. Bigbadderboom
      28th March 2010, 13:25

      It wont be active suspension, and I think any hydraulic control system would be outside the regulations. But it passes scrutineering so must be legal, how long before the technology is integrated into other vehicles?

    2. Honer should not blame the break discs supplier…because Webber has the same equipment like Vettel and does not seem to suffer reliability issues….we should also notice that with no refuelling the cars are heavier and the breaks will take a beating… therefore the lifespan or productive use of breaks must be very limited to practise one and two maybe and thereafter fresh discs for practise three and qualification and main race.
      One other thing to wonder is why is the Redbull faster than the rest if it was said that the Renault Engine is not at per with Ferari or the mercedes ones?…it seems like Adrian Newy has used super light materials to have a very fragile but fast car which is why the presure of high speed punishment is taking its toll on some parts.

  11. Newey should stick stickers to his cars “Fragile, handle with care.”

  12. Christian Horner said it wasn’t a “red bull reliablity problem” since they dont make the brakes, you could see it in his face that he dislikes people saying his car is unreliable when it’s not even their fault of sorts.

  13. Thing is, it’s good enough for Vettel (not saying that Vettel himself is moaning) when the Red Bull enables him to take pole, but suddenly when it lets him down it’s an injustice? Not only are the car and driver one package, but reliability and performance are part of the same car package too. It’s bad luck for Vettel, certainly, but to talk like Red Bull’s speed is somehow “natural” and its unreliability “not” is a bit of a fallacy.

    1. hear hear.

      Same with last year when they were constantly complaining how unfair it was that other cars had KERS when their own car was much faster and should have been able to deal with the KERS cars. If not on track then on strategy as Brawn/Button showed.

  14. I am gutted. After the amazing lap he done for pole position, once again, he is let down by the reliabilty of the Red Bull. I am even hoping that next week, he doesn’t take pole as maybe that will bring him some more luck, and actually a chance to win.

  15. Yeah Button drove great, but again Vettel was robbed. And we were robbed of a potentially exciting climax between Button and Vettel, much like between Alonso and Vettel in Bahrain, could Vettel have made it to the end on his tyres and maintain the lead? The irony is that Webber’s Red Bull has been bullet proof, but frankly he’s underperformed in the 2 races so far, no question about that. He needs a solid result in the next 2 races otherwise Red Bull will begin to consider replacing him for 2011, if they aren’t already…

  16. Vettel is pushing that bull to it’s limit.

    1. NOW THAT the teams know that the Redbull is fragile the natural thing is not to loose any sleep if they take pole again…just stick to the Redbulls tails and push hard and within 20 or 35 laps something will give way….we still have no information on the big plummes of smoke we saw from Webbers car in Bahrain at the start and then Vettels spark pludg went burst and now the BREAKS at Melbourne….something is not right here…
      REDBULL need to think very hard and i dont see them winning the championship at this rate

    2. Maybe even slightly over the limit on occasion.

  17. vettel pushes very hard.
    it was obvious at Q3 in AUS. he pushed over the limits…
    the car seems to be fragile and he destroyes it.

    1. Vettel needs a Redbull with the body of Ferari and the soul of a Mcaren with the spirit of REDBULL to win ….

  18. There’s something weird about this car. I have a feeling Vettel’s failure had something to do with the ride height control, as his RF wheel went up in the air, which shouldn’t happen on a LF brake failure.

    Also, if you watch Webber’s first pit stop, there is something inside the hub rotating and sparking, and big sparks coming out of the new wheel as the nut is being tightened. I guess it could just be a wheel nut thing but I’ve never seen it happen like that on another car…

    Could there be something in the hub moving the suspension mounting points as the fuel load lightens?

  19. Could Vettel’s rough last sector in qualifying have started the problem?


    1. great picture

      i suppose that must be one of the related factors to vettel’s brake failure.

      but surely, the team would have checked to see if that is alright?

      any how, if we watch the race again, right before the spin, vettel braked and there were some sparks coming out from the LF tyre. much like the picture above, although with less sparks flying…

      guttted. 50pts vs 12pts

    2. Nice picture. I saw one from I think Darren Heath of Schmacher riding a kerb and getting sparks from what looked like the edge of the plank. It looks like this may be the same thing, as Seb is riding the kerb at this point and the sparks seem to come from about the area where the plank starts.

  20. > At Bahrain two weeks ago he was leading comfortably when his car slowed with an exhaust problem.

    So… was it not a spark plug failure, as they said in the days after the race?

  21. “After the race he rued that his car problems meant he only has 12 points when he should have 50. Are Red Bull’s reliability problems going to cost him a shot at the championship?”

    If you were being cynical you could have ended the second sentence with the word “again”…

    1. Why would you put “again” there? How many races did Vettel not finish due to technical failures? Only one.

      Vettel lost 4 races by his own mistakes (Australia rammed Kubica, Malaysia 10 place penalty and spun out, Monaco rammed the wall, Hungary rammed Raikkonen and damaged suspension).

      1. Relax, I think GeeMac meant to say Red Bull’s car problems have cost Seb to loose vital points when he is not winning the grands prix.

        If you remember the Renault engine chewed itself up in more than one occasion during free practice. Valencia alone chewed up 2 engines (if i remember correctly).

        On another note, Kate was fairing much better in 2009. At least she was completing races whenever she started from pole position.

        I wonder if Seb made a mistake dumping Kate and her dirty sister for luscious liz. (jokes)

        1. Yeah, that’s one race where he was really plagued with mechanical failures. Yet I see over and over again that people claim that Vettel lost the championship to reliability issues.

          He didn’t. Not even close.

  22. Seems the tyre wasn’t ‘connected right’ during the pitstop that caused vibriations and destroying the disc.

    You notice Sutil dropped out with a motor failure just after the pitstops?

    1. Mercedes powered!
      No engine is bulletproof.

  23. I really hope these firt two races are not the two races that lost Vettel the championship. I have simpathy for him but then again Webber seems to get the car home so perhaps there are more questions to be ask…

  24. Vettel is probably the unluckiest driver out there on the grid.

  25. Please, what is torque drive to wheel.? Is it splined shaft?


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