Sebastian Vettel had a good opportunity to win the opening race of the season in Bahrain, but was let down by a mechanical problem while leading, and the German had to settle for fourth place.
Initially the team said it had been an exhaust problem which was responsible for Vettel slowing down on Lap 33, but further investigations this evening have shown that the loss of power was actually due to a spark plug failure and not the exhaust.
Speaking before this news emerged, Vettel was rueing the missed opportunity to take the race win this weekend, but is still pleased to get his first point of 2010. “It's a pity today. It was positive all weekend, except for the exhaust failure. From Saturday morning onwards, we were one of the quickest cars on track in all conditions. We had control of the race today and we were on top of the strategy – everything was running smoothly. I think at every point I knew how my tyres were, so we kept good control of the tyres and brakes. At some stage, I think about 15 to 20 laps from the end, you could see my lap times were getting slower. It seems something mechanical broke, luckily we could continue and finished fourth, but we should have won today. It cost us a lot, but we've got 12 important points.”
Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber also had a disappointing day, and could only manage eighth place, despite starting from sixth. Webber said that overtaking was very difficult around the Sakhir circuit and is looking forward to his home race in a fortnight. “It was a bit of a traffic jam out there. I had a fight with the two Mercedes in Turn one and Michael (Schumacher) had the inside for two; after that it was just about working out how we were going to jump them. It was very, very difficult to stay close to the cars in front.
“We got hurt yesterday in qualifying; we still managed to get a few points today, although not as many as we would have liked. We definitely learned a lot as a team today. It wasn't the most exciting grand prix I've driven – following gearboxes all afternoon – but the world class drivers who were ahead don't normally make mistakes. I tried as hard as I could to make Jenson (Button) and Michael make mistakes, but it wasn't happening.
“We have a long Championship ahead and the boys are working incredibly hard; we showed last year we can fight, so I'm looking forward to Melbourne.”
Team Principal Christian Horner praised Vettel for managing to get fourth place after is mechanical problem, and says Vettel was faster than his final position suggested. “It was cruel luck with Sebastian today. He drove a great race and was pulling away at the front. We had a very good pit stop with him and he was controlling the lead comfortably until lap 33, when he had a sudden loss of power. He was then powerless to defend to the Ferraris and Hamilton, but he drove extremely well to retain fourth position. It gives us valuable points, but ultimately it's very disappointing to lose such a great opportunity for a victory.
“Mark lost ground in the first turn and a little more with as light sticking front tyre at his pit stop, losing him a place to Jenson (Button). After that, despite being a lot faster than the cars in front, he was unable to overtake.”
Fabrice Lom, the Renault engine man who works with Red Bull, was also disappointed with the result, especially given the team’s performance in qualifying. “It's a very disappointingresult. With the pace we showed yesterday we really thought we would get a better result. Mark had a bit of an engine problem at the start which lost him a place and then he lost another with the pit stop. He was eighth in the end, which shows how difficult it was to overtake.
“For Sebastian, everything seemed to be in our pocket, but then an exhaust problem caused him to lose power. He was still able to finish fourth, which shows great talent. We are a bit disappointed, but we can take a lot of positives from this weekend. We will clear the negatives and be stronger in Australia.”