Alonso gets big break a with Vettel’s back of the grid penalty
4 November, 2012
Nov.4 (GMM) The battle for the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship has been blown wide open, with Sebastian Vettel set to start Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the third last race of 2012 – from the pitlane, providing a big opportunity for Fernando Alonso to close the gap in the world championship standings and perhaps even retake the lead at the top of the table.
Fernando Alonso is currently 13 points behind Vettel, with the German’s demotion he will start the race from sixth on the grid and so it is now quite possible that a podium finish on Sunday can give him back the world championship lead.
“This is an opportunity I have to use well,” Ferrari’s Alonso is quoted by SID news agency. “For sure, the race will be easier with Vettel starting from the back.”
Having raced into a runaway lead in the points standings with four wins on the trot in his dominant Red Bull, Vettel pulled over after qualifying third at Yas Marina.
Immediately afterwards, team boss Christian Horner said engine supplier Renault had made the call.
“We saw something on the telemetry and did not want to risk the engine,” said the French marque’s Remi Taffin, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
The team’s problems, however, were not over, as the stewards looked into the incident for almost five hours after qualifying.
Ultimately, scrutineers were unable to extract enough fuel from Vettel’s RB8 for the mandatory 1-litre testing sample – apparently only 850 ml was available in the tank.
The stewards then sent Vettel to the back of the grid.
“We will withdraw the car from parc ferme in order to investigate further,” said Horner, admitting that the action will mean a pitlane start for Vettel.
The only good news is that Red Bull can install a new engine for Vettel without further penalty, even though the German has already run through his 2012 allocation of eight V8 units.
Horner however said that his 25-year-old driver will have a “busy evening” on Sunday to minimise the likely damage to his championship bid, with Alonso promoted on the grid to sixth.
Subbed by AJN.