As fans awaited the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, in anticipation of whether the mighty Ferrari’s could again get the run on Mercedes off the line, the sight of Sebastian Vettel cruising to the grid with plumes of smoke pouring from the rear of the SF16-H, was a disappointing scene.
The German failed to make the start of the race, after his engine exploded on the formation lap, and as the rest of the grid got ready for the lights to turn green, Vettel parked his car on the side-lines, with plenty of time to ponder over what might have been.
Ferrari initially believed that the blowout was triggered by broken fuel injectors, but more detailed investigations back home in Maranello revealed that an exhaust valve was to blame. A knock on effect linked to a problem with engine parameters and electronics management.
The retirement means that Vettel will now have to take a second engine in China, had the Italian team known the issue was PU related earlier, they would most likely have replaced the engine before the start of last weekend’s race. As it is, they were unaware, and as well as losing one of the five engines allowed this year, the former Red Bull man missed out on adding points to his championship tally too.
With teammate Kimi Raikkonen finishing in second place and on the podium, as he also did in 2015, it begs the question how much further could Vettel, arguably Ferrari’s more successful driver, have pushed the silver arrows had he not been plagued with an engine failure? An opportunity missed, and one the Maranello based squad may rue come the end of the season.