Sebastian Vettel has admitted his crushing disappointment after being cruelly denied victory for the second time in as many races in F1 2010 in the Australian Grand Prix today – revealing that retirement from a comfortable lead Down Under had 'broken his balls' as he conceded that too many more problems like that and Red Bull Racing will throw the world championship away.
It seems indisputable that, with a brace of pole positions courtesy of Vettel and a front row lock-out in Melbourne, Red Bull presently has the fastest car on the grid – but in the Bahrain curtain-raiser a fortnight ago a faulty spark plug caused the Renault engine in the back of the young German's RB6 to lose power, and from a likely win the Heppenheim native fell away helplessly to fourth place at the chequered flag.
In Australia, Vettel mastered the tricky conditions to again lead supremely until almost half-distance, and he was looking to be on-track to atone for his Sakhir disappointment in some style, when a suspected brake failure pitched the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner off the road at unlucky Turn 13 and left his bid for glory stranded in the gravel trap – and a distant seventh in the title chase heading next to Malaysia in only a week's time.
“A lap or so earlier I felt already that something was wrong,” explained the 22-year-old, who only the previous day had confessed his hopes for another 'boring' race and hit back at Red Bull's reliability critics [see separate story – click here
]. “I saw some sparks coming up from the left front wheel, but we didn't know what it was. We wanted to pit on that lap, but a couple of corners before I had huge vibrations building up.
“I approached Turn 13 all easy and cautious, but it didn't help and as soon as I touched the brakes it felt like the brake disc exploded. Then you don't have any deceleration for 20 or 30 metres and you find yourself in the gravel bed. There was nothing I could have done – I lost the car and that was it. It's a shame as I think we had the race in total control at every stage, even though the conditions were difficult – but to win you have to finish. It breaks my balls not to get the win, but it's still early and there are a lot of races left in this championship.
“For sure it would be better at this stage to be going with 50 points to Malaysia instead of only twelve, but that's life and we can't change it now – it's happened. It's a pity, and for sure if we continue like that we won't have good cards in our hands for the last half of the season – but we're working hard to get on top the reliability issues and we hope to have a solid race and see the chequered flag in Malaysia.”
That frustration was palpably shared by RBR team principal Christian Horner, who lamented the 'cruel luck' that seems to do his young charge at Albert Park, after what looked like being the runner-up trophy in 2009 was stolen away from him by a late-race coming-together with BMW-Sauber rival Robert Kubica. The Englishman too agreed that such issues cannot be allowed to be repeated and important early points must not be carelessly tossed aside.
“Ultimately an extremely disappointing day,” summarised the 36-year-old, a former racer himself. “Having been in control of the race and in a commanding lead – the second in succession – Sebastian unfortunately retired with what looks like a front left wheel-related issue, which certainly cost him a comfortable race win today. It wasn't Sebastian's fault at all, and it was cruel luck for him for the second year in a row here in Australia. It's desperately frustrating not to have converted this race today, because he was faultless.
“It is an issue that we need to understand when we get the cars back. The next race is a week away and it's a circuit that should suit our car. We had both cars on the front row of the grid here and were in a commanding position and there's am long way to go in the championship – we just need to start winning races.”
“What a sad result,” concurred Renault's principal track support engineer, Fabrice Lom. “The only good thing from today was that we didn't have any engine problems, but that's it. We had the tools to win the race, and we need to tie all our work in all areas together in order to bounce back for the next race.”