Getty Images

Ferrari confirms Vettel engine change, edges closer to penalty

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel has moved onto his final permitted Formula 1 engine of the 2017 season after being forced into an early change due to an issue in final practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Drivers are allowed to use four power units through the entire 20-race season, with grid penalties being handed out to those exceeding this limit.

Ferrari had planned to introduce Vettel’s fourth and final power unit at a later date, but was forced to fit it to his SF70H car ahead of qualifying in Malaysia after an issue emerged during final practice.

Vettel slowed while heading down the back straight, nursing his car back to the pits and not returning back out on-track. He ended the session second-fastest behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Ferrari confirmed after the session it had been forced to change the engine on Vettel’s car, taking his fourth power unit in order to avoid triggering a penalty.

“Towards the end of the session, there was an electronic malfunction on Seb’s car and the engineers decided to change the internal combustion engine on his car as a precaution,” Ferrari added.

While this change is penalty-free, Vettel’s final power unit will now have to last longer than originally planned, putting him at risk of a grid drop amid his battle for the title with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 5am ET on Saturday.

F1 2017 driver review: Kevin Magnussen

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Magnussen

Team: Haas
Car No.: 20
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 19
Championship Position: 14th

Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.

For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.

Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.

Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.

Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.

That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.

The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.

Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.

Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.