F1 » 25 March 2012
Radio problems thwart Vettel's race
Sebastian Vettel found out just how crucial real time communications between driver and pit wall are in F1, when his failed midway through the Malaysian GP.
As the saying goes, you don't miss something until it's gone: and Sebastian Vettel got the text book lesson in just how much the team radio link contributes to his race when he lost communications shortly after the Malaysian Grand Prix restarted following a lengthy red flag for a storm.
"Crucially we lost radio communication and that makes it very difficult in these conditions to know what's going on," said the world champion at Sepang. "Today it was crucial to come in at the right time, [but] having no radio meant we were delayed getting the messages."
"We had lost all radio contact with Sebastian, which meant we could only speak with him via the pit board," confirmed Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
Despite the radio problems, the team and driver were coping well only to see it all end in tears with a left rear puncture on the car after a glancing contact between Vettel and the front wing of Narain Karthikeyan's lapped HRT.
"The race was going okay until Seb had the incident with HRT which caused a problem with the left hand wheel," said Renault's Cyril Dumont. "Unfortunately for us, today is a race to forget."
"Before the incident with HRT, the way the race had unfolded was good for us I think, so it's frustrating to lose the race like that," agreed Vettel.
Once Vettel got back to the pit lane the tyre was quickly changed, but the flailing rubber had torn into the bodywork during the in-lap. "The incident caused damage to the rear brake duct, which went into thermal runaway," explained Horner. "We wanted to stop the car before the end from a safety point of view, [but] Seb didn't hear us on the radio and continued."
Vettel wasn't happy to simply park up before the end of the race in any case. "I wanted to see the chequered flag," he said simply. [Even though] there were no points for me today."
"Thankfully his car got to the end without failing, but the incident cost Sebastian at least a fourth place finish today," Horner said. "His race was going well."
Almost unnoticed with all the late race drama surrounding Vettel was his team mate Mark Webber finishing in a solid fourth place. Although it had been a wild race for everyone, by comparison it had been a relatively straightforward drive for the Australian.
"It was busy with a lot of calls going on at the re-start and with the tyres," he pointed out. "It was a mixed-up race and it was good to get some points. There were some great strengths to take from this weekend. The team has been working really hard, so thanks to them - we know there will be more opportunities in the future."
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