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Gearbox penalty adds to Vettel’s Russian woes

29 Apr 2016

Sebastian Vettel is set to drop five places on the grid for Sunday’s 2016 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix after an unscheduled gearbox change on his Ferrari.

The blow comes after Vettel also lost an hour of running in Friday’s second Sochi practice session with a suspected electrical problem on his SF16-H, leaving team mate Kimi Raikkonen to conduct the bulk of Ferrari’s programme.

“It is a bit of a shame, as we are now missing quite a few laps especially for the long runs and in the race trim,” commented the German. “This would have gotten us much more information on how competitive we would be on Sunday.

“Kimi had to do the homework for the whole team and that was not too bad, as we roughly know what to expect, and for sure we can also learn from what other people did.”

Ferrari have brought a new nose and an uprated engine to the Russian round, though Vettel admitted it will likely not be enough to see the Scuderia out-pace world champions Mercedes in qualifying.

“We have already seen that they are again very strong here and especially Lewis (Hamilton) got very well into the rhythm,” he added.

“The good news is that the balance of our car feels quite good and the track is suiting us more and more. But still I have to say that we are not the favourites here.”

Despite his problems in FP2, Vettel finished the session second fastest behind Hamilton, with Raikkonen in fourth behind the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.