Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene is lamenting a missed opportunity for the third Formula 1 race running after seeing Sebastian Vettel forced to retire due to a broken spark plug, while Kimi Raikkonen’s gearbox penalty hampered his race.

The Ferrari boss has reiterated his believe in the team’s pace being a strong match against Mercedes and Red Bull but feels it wasn’t able to demonstrate it at the Japanese Grand Prix after Vettel’s early retirement.

Vettel reported a lack of power from his Ferrari on the sighting lap to the starting grid, later diagnosed as a broken spark plug, and despite the Italian manufacturer’s best efforts he was forced to retire after the opening laps.

On the other side of the Ferrari garage Raikkonen’s race pace was compromised by his gearbox change penalty, sustained in an FP3 crash, which saw him start from 10th and initially struggle to fight through the pack before finding his rhythm to take fifth place.

Arrivabene has repeated Ferrari’s motivation to keep fighting until the final race of the year is finished but accepts it is another key opportunity in the F1 world title race that has slipped away which will bring even greater scrutiny after Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne demanded changes in the aftermath of its engine failures in Malaysia.

“Once again, despite our car clearly having great potential, things did not go to plan,” Arrivabene said. “The problem that stopped Seb was down to a broken spark plug. We spotted that something was not right on the lap to the grid and we tried our best to fix the problem. Seb got a great start, but shortly afterwards we had to call him back to the garage prior to retiring the car.

“Kimi’s race was compromised by his less than ideal start position, which came about because of the penalty he had to take for a change of gearbox following his accident in P3. From there, he was able to move up the order as far as fifth place.

“As I’ve said before, we know that the car, the drivers and the team are all on the pace. That is why we will tackle the coming races with great effort and even more determination. Right up to the last corner of the last Grand Prix.”

Ferrari could mathematically lose both F1 drivers’ and constructors’ fights in the next race in the United States if it suffers a similar result to the Japanese GP against Mercedes. Vettel is now 59 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton while Ferrari is a distant 145 points off Mercedes in the constructors' standings.


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