Sebastian Vettel hopes to avoid a grid penalty for the Spanish Grand Prix after confirming he had a gearbox problem during qualifying.

After missing out on most of Friday practice, Vettel looked reasonably competitive during FP3 and made it through to the final part of qualifying before stopping on track. Having failed to set a time in Q3, Vettel will start from tenth on the grid but admitted he was wary that there is a chance he will be forced to change his gearbox and incur a penalty.

"Today I don't know what the cause was yet," Vettel said. "I hope that there's no damage to the gearbox otherwise that will mean another penalty tomorrow."

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Explaining what had gone wrong during qualifying in detail, Vettel said he was actually going to try and complete his first timed lap without second gear.

"Q3 I left the pits and took first gear to leave, went up to second, lost drive in second gear, went up to third and had third so decided to keep going because it's possible to do a lap even without second gear around here. But then by Turn 1 I got stuck in fifth gear and couldn't go up or down. So I lost drive and had to stop."

And Vettel admitted that the lack of running he has had this weekend makes it difficult for him to try and come through the field form tenth place.

"I've not been tested on the track much because I didn't drive that much, but it's obviously tough. I would love to get more information about the car, get in to the rhythm. I missed yesterday - almost both practice sessions - and quite a little bit this morning. I think qualifying was quite tricky because people generally ran out of tyres towards the end of the lap. So it was a tricky one where you just need laps again. But we'll see, it'll be a different world tomorrow."