Sebastian Vettel's suspension damage, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

Vettel doubts new kerb caused suspension failure

2019 United States Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel does not believe the suspension failure which caused his retirement from the United States Grand Prix was caused by a new kerb which was installed overnight.

The Ferrari driver retired when his right-rear suspension collapsed on the eighth lap of the race at turn nine. Shortly afterwards Ferrari warned Charles Leclerc they suspected a new kerb at turn eight might have contributed to the failure.

“Try to avoid apex kerb turn eight,” Leclerc was told. After asking why he was advised “just because Sebastian had suspension failure there.”

The fluorescent orange dome kerb was added at the apex of turn eight to discourage drivers from cutting the corner. It was installed following yesterday’s qualifying, do drivers had not experienced running on it before the race started.

However Vettel did not believe the kerb contributed to his retirement. “No, I didn’t use that,” he said after the race.

Vettel started on the front row of the grid but dropped back quickly from the first lap and had sunk to seventh place at the time he retired.

“I had no grip in the first lap,” he said. “I had to let a lot of people by so I couldn’t really resist. I really struggled to get the tyres to work, struggled in right-hand corners.

“Then the suspension failed. So obviously we’ve done a lot of running the whole weekend, long runs included, and no issues, so I don’t know what exactly happened but obviously something broke.”

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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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14 comments on “Vettel doubts new kerb caused suspension failure”

  1. I doubt it as well, that said, no reason to add sausages on sunday morning, shady fom again, weird new masi era.

  2. Contact with Albon, T1, first lap.

    1. Vettel had no contact with anyone.

      1. My bad. I got Vettel and Leclerc mixed up.

    2. He slighty hit Le Clerc when Albon landed.

      1. Robert Doornbos can’t understand the yellow bar on a car.

      2. @macleod, still seems unlikely to have been the cause – the way that it has sheared off close to the fixing point makes me wonder if this was a defective component rather than being a result of that contact.

  3. It seems most likely that his understeer issue’s early on in the race were because the suspension was starting to fail from the start. It only gave up completely on lap 8.

  4. Sky showed footage of Vettel’s car jacked up and his mechanics working on the rear of his car, which at the tmie was steaming.
    I’d say the issue was caused then, and never truly resolved by race start. Hopefully a journalist will be motivated to ask the right questions. What was the issue then. What were they working on then and might that be the cause of his suspension/gearbox/engine failure?

  5. Considering the car was mishandling badly from the start, it seems like the car started with damage or a defect. Probably a consequence of the pounding on the bumps over three days. We saw Verstappen have to Change a rear wing on the grid due to a hairline crack in a support.

    1. Probably a consequence of the pounding on the bumps over three days

      thought so too initially, but it seems kind of unlikely now that noone else suffered any similiar defects over the full distance.

    2. It could be damage or just a bolt wasn’t tightened properly or was tightened too hard. Vettel’s car seemed to be fine from the start as his braking into turn 1 was fine so I’d say it was still fully functional at that point. During the qualifying the car was also fine which to me sounds like it is not an old issue like a crack growth from earlier accident or a crack ferrari had missed before the race (they check the parts constantly). I’d imagine the issue begun at the first esses after the first corner. The first hairpin corner is very slow so the suspension doesn’t take much punishment there but the following really fast right/left and the combinations that follow will quickly start moving things around that are not properly secured.

      During the race there was a good pic shown in the broadcast that showed that the lower a-arm had actually disconnected from the gearbox which to me suggest that either the gearbox failed or the suspension mount on the gearbox failed. The a-arm itself looked fine. Sounds to me ferrari just did something to the car between qualifying and the race and that caused the issue. The parc ferme rules don’t allow setup changes but I think you are still allowed to disasemble and assemble the car for checks and even parts changes if fia allows it. I think something was being done to vettel’s ferrari before the start? On verstappen’s car red bull found a hairline fracture and fia gave them permission to change that part so it is not very unusual.

      1. Went and checked what was changed on vettel’s car: Rear transponder cover and RHS rear brake drum. Rhs = right hand side.

  6. The suspension arm clearly came loose when Vettel hit that sausage though. Whether it was weakened already upfront is another matter.

    What is weirder though is how he got to the grid without noticing something was amiss?

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