Renault has admitted that it is mystified as to why Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel has been hampered by so many engine woes this year – problems that threaten to cost the young German his chance of battling for the 2009 Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship crown.
Vettel had a Renault engine fail in FP3 on Saturday morning in Valencia – losing him and his rivals valuable set-up time as the session had to be prematurely stopped due to the oil slick he had left on the track – before another one of the Régie's
powerplants let go on him in the European Grand Prix itself barely 24 hours later.
Having been sitting in fifth position at the time, that cost the 22-year-old potentially four points – points that could prove to be crucial as the season speeds towards what is shaping up to be a dramatic title battle conclusion, with the man from Heppenheim now left with no new engines to use.
However, whilst Vettel has suffered those and two other failures earlier in the season, the three other Renault-powered drivers in the 20-strong field – Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, and Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean (formerly Nelsinho Piquet) at the French manufacturer's official 'works' outfit – have been largely unaffected. Fabrice Lom, principal track support engineer for the car maker, admitted that the issue is a perplexing one indeed.
“There are no objective reasons why the problems have only been with Vettel and Red Bull,” the Frenchman told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport
. “The engines run in the Red Bull with the same temperatures as they do in the Renault, and Vettel's style of driving doesn't have anything to do with it.”