Vettel expecting engine penalties, misses FP2 in Belgium

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Sebastian Vettel has said that he is expecting to be hit towards the end of the season as the new engine penalties for the 2014 season begin to come into play.

As part of the new technical regulations for this season, drivers are set to receive a grid penalty for using more than five components on the power unit across the course of the year. However, some of the drivers are already on their fifth and final component, even though we have a further eight races to go in 2014.

Vettel admitted that grid penalties were to be expected towards the end of the season, given how troublesome the cars have been so far this year.

“First of all I hope we have no issues with reliability, obviously it is clear that in the second half we won’t be so fast because we’ll have to pay the price of the first half,” Vettel told the media in Belgium on Thursday.

“The engine and other components will have to be changed at some stage and obviously we will receive the penalties for that, which is not great for the drivers perspective but it is part of the rules and part of the game.”

Vettel’s title defence has wilted in the face of Mercedes’ dominance, combined with Red Bull’s own struggles in 2014. However, he is hoping for a more trouble-free second half of the season.

“I think obviously it has been a tough season so far, we’ve had lots of problems with the reliability, I didn’t drive the car much and there were things that did bother me which have been fixed,” he explained.

“To be honest it hasn’t been our season yet, obviously the potential is there but we’ve missed a little bit of luck as well. I think the second [half] of the season should be a lot more quieter.

“We will hopefully have a lot more time to work on the Friday and Saturday and have a normal weekend.”

This did not happen in Belgium on Friday, though. Vettel suffered an engine failure during the first practice session, leaving Red Bull with a big repair job that forced him to sit out of FP2 at Spa.

The regulations state that drivers will receive a ten place grid penalty for the first time they use a sixth component, and then another five place penalty for every other sixth change. After that, there is another ten place penalty for the seventh component used, then another five for every other seventh change, and so on.

In short, expect some mixed up grids across the second half of the season.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”