Sebastian Vettel's second alternator-related retirement of the 2012 season will be addressed as a matter of urgency after derailing the German's championship challenge at the Italian Grand Prix.
While Vettel is not out of the title race, far from it, he dropped to fourth in the closely-matched pack chasing Fernando Alonso and sits 39 point adrift of the Ferrari driver with the seven 'flyaway' races remaining between now and mid-November. The German was also not in a position to threaten Alonso's podium finish at Monza, having been penalised for 'forcing' his rival off the road at the Curva Grande as the Spaniard attempted to recover from a qualifying disaster on Saturday. Alonso eventually finished third, behind Lewis Hamilton - who assumes Vettel's role as chief challenger to the Ferrari driver - and Sergio Perez.
Vettel was instructed, with some urgency, to park his RB8 on the run to the Rettifilio at the start of lap 47, having earlier been warned that the figures being sent back from the engine were far from favourable. The problem was later confirmed as alternator failure, which also appeared to be the cause of the German's late session exit in FP3 on Saturday morning and, having already cost him a likely win in Valencia, both RBR and Renault have vowed to try and address the issue before the season resumes in Singapore.
"It was a hugely disappointing race – our first non-scoring race since Korea 2010," team principal Christian Horner reflected, acknowledging Mark Webber's late DNF, "It was a repeat failure with the alternator on Sebastian's car and we need to look into it and work with Renault to ensure it doesn't happen again. It's already cost us a victory in Valencia and now a points finish again here in Monza. It's important we address it for the remaining seven races.”
Engine partner Renault had vowed to investigate the alternator problems that struck in the heat of Valencia, with Lotus' Romain Grosjean also being sidelined within laps of Vettel's exit, but insisted that the two retirements in that race appeared to have been caused by different things, with overheating blamed for the world champion missing out on what would have been his second win of the year.
“We changed the alternator on Sebastian's car [after FP3] but, unfortunately, we had the same failure in [the] race," Renault's Cyril Dumont confirmed, "We are still looking into why this happened, but we do know that, even though the alternator was being operated entirely within the prescribed range, the part itself overheated and shut off the power supply. We have to apologise to Red Bull Racing as, clearly, this has hurt us in the championship. We have no option but to sort it out and it will still be a priority before Singapore.”
Webber, meanwhile, did not report problems with his engine, but spun at Ascari late on and was forced to retire with a severe vibration that meant that he could not focus on the circuit. Even though he, like Vettel, was classified in the results, stopping before the chequered flag will allow RBR to make certain changes to his RB8 ahead of Singapore.
"For Mark, it was a tough race and, unfortunately, he just ran out of tyres near the end of the race and the resulting flat spots that came from the high-speed spin put an awful lot of vibration in the car," Horner confirmed, "Rather than risk a failure, we chose to retire the car."