Sebastian Vettel says it is "very likely" he will start from the pit lane and miss qualifying at this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

Having had numerous reliability issues earlier in the season, Vettel is likely to need a sixth power unit. Changing one component would result in a ten-place grid penalty, but changing every part requires Vettel to start from the pit lane and he said the regulations mean there is little point in putting extra mileage on the car in qualifying.

"I think it's to be confirmed, but, yes, we have to get an extra engine at some stage this year and very likely at this event here," Vettel said. "Obviously we had quite a bad first half of the season in terms of reliability, with a lot of things happening, and that put us in that position. Practice we will definitely run to try to maximise the track time, but more focus towards the race because qualifying fast is not that important if it comes down to Sunday when we start from the pit lane due to the regulations.

"It's a very enjoyable circuit and qualifying is when you usually get everything out and try to nail that one flying lap. It's usually the time when you go quickest for the whole weekend, so it will be a shame to miss that. Again, points are scored on Sunday and if that's what we have to do, that's what we have to live with. It's a part of the regulations, I didn't make them, but equally everyone has to respect them."

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When it was put to Vettel that he would have a moral obligation to compete in front of fans as the defending champion - and with two teams absent in Austin - Vettel said his hand is likely to be forced by the regulations.

"You can talk about obligations but in the end we have to manage the situation with the engines. The rules are the same for everyone, obviously it was our fault being very greedy at the beginning of the season; I had a lot of issues in terms of reliability, taking the engines to the end of their lives.

"Obviously Daniel did a better job, and was simply a bit luckier at some stages but the situation is what it is. I would love to change it, I would love to say that I could just qualify in the normal way and use every practice session to the maximum but it doesn't look that way. So it would be a shame. At this stage it is not entirely clear; we are still trying to work out how many kilometres or miles we have to do as an absolute minimum to survive.

"Of course we would like to do more but as I said we will use practice and see where we are and go from there. The rules are pretty clear, once you decide to play the joker and take a sixth part, a sixth engine, sixth turbo etc. - all the pieces - you have to start from the pit lane. Even if you qualify on pole you have to start from the pit lane, so that's why instead of burning mileage in qualifying which you may then regret later on in Brazil or Abu Dhabi, where we might not see the finish line, that would be a lot more costly than deciding here not to qualify. But I see your point and it would be a real shame."


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107SS2009: The US F1 race goers (paying attendance) deserves better than that, more so with the grid being down to 18 cars, the sporting rules should not allow such things/practices as it is not only not fair on F1 followers but neither in the spirit of the sporting rules. [\blockquote]

Sporting rules?
Since when has F1 been a sport?
I'd have to have dementia to remember that far back.