Sebastian Vettel's bid to win his third drivers' title in succession took a knock today in the 2012 F1 Italian Grand Prix, with an alternator failure again sideling the German, this time six laps from the chequered flag.
It was a bitterly disappointing result for the two-time F1 world champion, especially as he had the same problem in final practice on Saturday and of course back in June, when it put him out well on course to win the European Grand Prix at Valencia.
Vettel had been in sixth place when he was advised to park it and switch off his engine, although he was up to third at one point, until he got a drive-through penalty after the stewards judged he had pushed Fernando Alonso off the track while trying to defend his position.
The Red Bull driver drop now drops to fourth in the F1 2012 Drivers' Championship, 39 points off Alonso, with seven races to go.
“I found out I had a problem roughly 300 metres before I stopped the car. It was an alternator problem, similar to the one we had yesterday morning,” Vettel said. “The drive-through incident was decided and happened, so there's not so much to say about that. We lost some points today; but we did the best we could – you could see that our pace was not as strong as the leaders. It had been a good race for us given the lack of pace.
“There are not so many long straights at the next couple of circuits though, so we can challenge there.”
Team-mate, Mark Webber meanwhile also had an afternoon to forget and while he was also on course to score points, despite a tardy start, a spin with two laps to go, left him with his tyres heavily flat spotted, and he had to retire soon after.
“Towards the end of the race, I had no rear tyres left and I was pushing reasonably hard. Nico [Rosberg] was coming on his fresh two-stop tyres, so I had to keep pushing and staying on it – for the sake of getting a couple of points [and keeping P7]. But maybe I shouldn't have pushed as hard; I was just trying to stay on it.
“The rear tyres were completely finished, so I dropped it out of the Ascari chicane; I managed to keep it off the wall, but then the tyres were so heavily flat-spotted, I was worried about damaging the car.
“We do 330 km/h round here, I couldn't see the track, so we decided to retire,” he explained.