Vettel had dreaded a five-place grid drop during the current end of the week’s race at Suzuka, after he was associated with a robust collision with Lance Stroll’s Williams on the warm down lap of the Malaysian GP.
The contact with the Williams was very extreme which left Vettel’s car with its rear left wheel draped over the back of the chassis and a damage to the gearbox. Any change would have brought about an expensive punishment – without any justification for Ferrari to be allowed any exclusion due to constrain majeure.
If the gearbox had been damaged then a change of unit would have automatically triggered a five-place grid penalty against Vettel at Suzuka.
“That could be another bad surprise this weekend,” said Vettel before leaving Sepang. “I hope not because it was completely unnecessary.”
“I had to really make a decision when Max was closing me down, to not fight him and risk him crashing into me, because he’s going to give it everything – he’s got nothing to lose, whereas I’ve got everything to lose,” said Hamilton. “So I didn’t make it very hard for him.”
Hamilton then added: “Reliability is coming into play but also driving mistakes are coming into play as well. We have seen a couple from Sebastian. Today, for example, crashing into someone.
“Who knows whether that is his gearbox busted for the next race or not. We will see. All those things come into play. I am just trying to be smart with the decisions I make on track.”
The group will along these lines fit the gearbox as planned on Saturday morning at Suzuka for definite free practice, with that hour-long run enough to give affirmation that everything is all together preceding qualifying.
Vettel’s crash after the checkered banner in Malaysia came following a vivacious fightback, where he charged from the back of the lattice to fourth place.
The German is 34 points behind title pioneer Lewis Hamilton, having persevered through troublesome ends of the week in Singapore and Malaysia in spite of having an auto that could win the two races.