If you imagine Russia as a frigid, punishing place, unfortunate Sebastian Vettel might be able to vouch for that. He’s encountered mishap after mishap on the track in Sochi. The German’s car came to a complete halt during Practice 2, thanks to a debilitating electrical issue with his SF16-H. Now, he’s actually being castigated with a five-place grid penalty because Ferrari was forced to change his gearbox ahead of the Russian GP.
Apparently, the gearbox took a hit when Vettel collided with Kimi Raikkonen in China. Ferrari knew about the issue and was hesitant to risk running the damaged part throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, their decision to play it safe ended up costing Vettel the obligatory five-place penalty.
Vettel was very much aware of trouble looming even before the penalty was confirmed.
“The balance was not quite where I wanted it to be. It was quite slippery.
“[We’re] lacking a bit of information on my side, but other people did their homework and hopefully we can copy that bit.”
It appears timing is everything in the motorsports world. Lewis Hamilton had a gearbox change himself but was well within the safe zone because he changed it during the previous Grand Prix. Apparently, his very fortunate timing entitles him to a new one for the next six races.
As for Sebastian Vettel, he’s just beginning to feel the chill of a very long Siberian winter. We hope he dresses warm, or at least, manages not to destroy his gearbox in the meantime.