The suspected engine problem that momentarily slowed Sebastian Vettel during Sunday's Italian Grand Prix and caused the young German to initially think his race was 'over' was in fact a brake issue, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has revealed – and a self-inflicted one at that.
Having made a poor getaway at Monza in company with fellow third row-starter and RBR team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel settled into P7 in the early stages of the grand prix, closely following fifth-placed Robert Kubica and sixth-placed Nico Hülkenberg. However, on lap 20 the Heppenheim native complained of a sudden loss of power and dropped behind Webber and almost into the clutches of the pursuing Michael Schumacher, confessing that 'for one-and-a-half laps I thought, it's over, it's all over'.
Indeed, Vettel lost four seconds over the space of that lap and the one that followed, before the gremlin mysteriously vanished and enabled the 23-year-old to carry on with his race – one that, by dint of an ultra-late pit-stop and Webber getting held up for lap-after-lap by the increasingly wild Hülkenberg, enabled him to jump the pair of them as well as Kubica and Nico Rosberg to snatch fourth position at the last gasp and the potentially crucial twelve points that accompany it.
Outscoring both Webber and erstwhile world championship leader Lewis Hamilton means that although the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner has fallen from third to fifth in the title standings, points-wise he is actually closer than he had been prior to the weekend, now lying 24 markers adrift of the top of the table.
Following post-race analysis, Horner has since confirmed that it was the brakes that led to Vettel's temporary dip in lap time – one quite possibly caused by the manner in which the car had been driven.
“At first we thought one of his visor tear-offs might have flown into the airbox, but it now looks as though his brakes were momentarily binding, probably as a result of hitting a kerb [too hard],” the Englishman explained.