Dire call sums up Vettel’s Australian GP chaos perfectly
Sebastian Vettel was “really keen” to begin his world championship campaign when he arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix – but the Aston Martin driver’s comeback turned out to be a calamity.
After battling through two days packed with problems, disaster again struck on Sunday when the four-time world champion slid out and crashed into a barrier while exiting turn four on lap 23.
Vettel’s AMR22 was smashed and the 34-year-old retired from the race, leading to a telling call from Sky Sports commentator David Croft.
“… this is not only the most costly, but this could be one of the worst weekends that Sebastian Vettel has had on track in his Formula 1 career – and he’s had a few weekends,” Croft said of Vettel, who’s had 280 career races and debuted 15 years ago, in 2007.
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After COVID-19 wiped Vettel from the first two races of the world championship, in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, his Australian Grand Prix weekend began on a frustrating note when he lost power after 18 laps in practice one.
His session was done and a fire extinguisher was needed to cool down the car – and then came a priceless moment but also a fine.
Vettel retrieved a marshal’s scooter and rode it on the Albert Park Circuit to return to the pits, waving to fans along the way.
The joyride, of course, was clipped up, made its way onto social media and went viral, as the Formula 1 world saw the fun and humour in the moment.
However, the FIA slapped Vettel with a fine totalling more than $7000.
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His damaged car meant he wasn’t able to drive in practice two, before he crashed after just five laps in practice three.
Vettel then completed just one flying lap in qualifying.
He was expected to miss qualifying altogether and only got a flying lap done because a crash had forced a 20-minute delay, giving Aston Martin time to complete its rebuild of his car.
But, nonetheless, he only clocked 1:21.149 for his flying lap and didn’t have another chance to improve, consigning him to 17th on the grid.
And, in another blow to his dire weekend, he received a second fine from the FIA – this one was more than $800 – for speeding in the pitlane in qualifying, driving at 85.1km/h instead of 80km/h or slower.
Priceless scenes as Vettel rides scooter around Albert Park Circuit
Vettel’s retirement due to crashing on lap 23 of the race capped off his dreadful weekend in fitting fashion.
“… I tried to get the best out of the car that I can and with hindsight maybe I was pushing too hard,” Vettel told Sky Sports.
“Once I lost it there was no chance to come back.
“It was more challenging not to have the running, obviously partly because we lost time with the car, and then with the Saturday morning incidents. So, doesn’t help.
“But I’m sure it will get better. It can’t get any worse.”
Vettel has had 53 career wins and claimed three of them in Melbourne, which he most recently conquered with Ferrari in 2018.
Aston Martin is the only team yet to register a point after the first three rounds of the season.
Lance Stroll finished 12th in the Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel and his teammate will get another shot at the points when the world championship reaches the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in two weekends’ time.
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