Ferrari has explained Sebastian Vettel’s retirement in the Japanese Grand Prix was caused by a faulty spark plug on a cylinder in his engine.

Vettel suffered his second DNF in three races, while it was his second major mechanical problem in consecutive races, which has left him with a 59-point deficit to Lewis Hamilton after he claimed victory at Suzuka.

After an inlet manifold failure on the compressor to the cylinder heads prematurely ended Vettel’s qualifying in Malaysia which forced him to start last – with team-mate Raikkonen suffering an identical issue on his sighting lap to the grid in Sepang which caused his DNS – Ferrari says a spark plug was to blame for the German driver’s costly retirement in Japan.

“From the outset, Sebastian Vettel was robbed of any chance to fight for the win, when a spark plug on one cylinder failed,” Ferrari has confirmed. “However, Kimi’s performance proved that the team and the car are capable of getting the job done and until the maths says it’s over, we will keep trying.

“The number 5 car was called back into the pits and the mechanics tried to fix the problem. However, a few minutes later Seb climbed out of the cockpit. A spark plug was broken and it was pointless to go on.”

It is unclear if the two problems in Malaysia and Japan are related, with Ferrari expected to run an analysis back in Maranello before the next race, but it continues a disastrous run for Ferrari having lost the points lead to Hamilton at its home race at Monza before seeing both Vettel and Raikkonen crash out on lap one in Singapore which has been followed by the mechanical issues in Malaysia and Japan.

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