Vettel forced into pre-quali engine change

Date published: December 5 2020

Sebastian-Vettel-PA

Ferrari confirmed that they are changing Sebastian Vettel’s engine before qualifying for the Sakhir GP as a precaution.

The four-time World Champion was looking handy during FP3 around the Outer Circuit, at one stage rising as high as P2.

He would ultimately finish P15 in what was an extremely tight session, eight tenths off Max Verstappen in P1, but Vettel now has bigger things to worry about than that deficit.

That’s because Ferrari announced a “precautionary engine change” on Vettel’s car pre-qualifying, but with 90 minutes to go before Q1 begins, the Scuderia are certainly in a race against the clock.

It’s the lastest reliability issue to plague the team this weekend after Charles Leclerc missed out on Q2 due to a driveshaft failure.

On Friday Vettel said that qualifying will be a “mess” due to the amount of traffic that will be caused in Q1 by the 20 cars.

“Not just the middle section the whole track is short and there will be the same amount of cars so Q1 will be very tight,” he told reporters.

“The other thing that doesn’t help is we have to go really slow in the cool laps to bring the tyres down, that’s probably the worst factor.

“One thing is looking for traffic, the other is having such big speed deltas, so it will be a mess. I hope that nothing happens, we can’t all go through, but all go through without being impeded or having trouble with traffic and so on.”

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That being said, with the midfield pack so tight this weekend, Vettel believes Q3 is possible.

“I think Q1 should be fine, to make it through to Q2, and then Q3 I think could be possible, maybe it’s a little bit better than last week but I reckon it will be very tight,” he said.

“It’s a short lap, gaps between the cars are nothing, the midfield has always been tight this year so it will be even tighter.”

Vettel goes into the Sakhir Grand Prix P13 in the Drivers’ Championship with 33 points, 65 points behind team-mate Leclerc.

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