23 September 2013
Singapore Grand Prix: Vettel grateful for gap amid brake worries
World champion nurses car to the end for second race running, but can't explain why team-mate Mark Webber suffered greater reliability problems once again.
Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he was grateful for the gap between himself and the pack as reliability worries again reared their head on his Red Bull entry in the Singapore Grand Prix.
After being told to short shift in higher gears towards the end of his victory run in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the transmission was rumoured to be a weak point on the RB9, particularly as the unit installed for Singapore was coming to the end of its mandatory five-race run, but this time around it was the brakes that caused Vettel most concern, with engineer Guillaume Rocquelin urging the world champion to be wary of a vibration in the late stages.
“Yeah, definitely, I could definitely feel it,” Vettel reported, “It was building up towards the end of the race but, fortunately, we were in the lead and we had a new set of supersofts, which we saved yesterday, so I could afford to take it a bit easy.”
Had the field been closer than 30 seconds, the German admitted that the situation may have been different but, instead, he was able to nurse the problem to the flag, and a seventh win of the season.
“Surely, if we had been under a lot of pressure then...,” he mused, “We've had those kind of issues before, but it's not the most comfortable. You use the brakes quite a lot around here. We could control it but, had we raced harder until the end, I think it would have been tough.”
Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was not so lucky, as an engine problem spelt his demise a couple of laps from home, just as he was contemplating joining Vettel on the podium. The Australian had made the most of his own tyre strategy to start carving through the field in the closing stages but, having reached fourth spot and closed on Kimi Raikkonen, he radioed the pit wall to say he was in 'big trouble'.
What began with an ailing car down on power ended with the rear of the RB9 catching light and Webber having to bail out a lap from home, his fourth place rapidly becoming 15th in the final standings.
Vettel, while grateful that the issue had not affected his car, was at a loss to explain why the majority of technical problems – notably with KERS over the past two years - befell his team-mate rather than himself.
“I don't think there's a reason,” he opined, “We both had issues with the gearbox - if Mark had a gearbox issue - in Monza [and] I had more issues [here] on Friday with the gearbox than Mark had.
“Maybe he was in traffic the whole race. It's quite hot, temperatures were maybe a bit higher, but, on the other hand, his gearbox had suffered already a little bit more in Monza because I think a radiator had an issue.
“So maybe it's a consequence of that, but I don't think there's a reason for it between cars. We both get the same stuff from the same shelf...”
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