F1 Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has gotten off scott-free over a potential gearbox penalty following his post-race crash with Lance Stroll.
Despite being the sort of incident that would feel right at home in the F1 Silly Season, the shunt that Sebastian Vettel took on the cool-down lap of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang had dire implications.
The shunt, which he received from F1 rookie Lance Stroll, saw Vettel’s rear left tire prop up on the back of his car in a grotesque angle that resembled a twisted imitation of a spare tire resting atop his power unit.
Both parties claimed that the other was responsible for the incident – and with both drivers doing their best to pick up rubber marbles from the track, it’s likely that both were responsible to some degree.
Despite the stellar drive that Vettel turned in at Sepang, Ferrari is in no place to sustain any grid penalties. With the 2017 season coming to a close, they’re keenly aware that their window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
Thankfully, after shipping the German driver’s gearbox back to Maranello for assessment, examination results have confirmed that the gearbox was undamaged and can be fitted as planned for the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix.
Vettel and Co. can breathe easy as a five-place penalty is no longer on the table – but they won’t get a long respite. The battle with Mercedes has turned in favor of the Silver Arrows, and after the disastrous reliability issues that the Italian squad encountered in Sepang, the season seems far tipped out of their favor.
There is no doubt that Ferrari have a car capable of winning races. But the Prancing Horses will have to manage the upcoming races expertly if they hope to fend off their championship challengers and prevent the 34 point that Hamilton has Eked out over Vettel from becoming the chasm which their aspirations will plummet down into.