Ferrari has opted to make the most of Sebastian Vettel’s failure to feature in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday by taking fresh power unit elements for its Formula 1 title contender to use.
An issue in final practice at Sepang forced Ferrari to fit its fourth and final engine of the year to Vettel’s car ahead of qualifying, only for a problem with the turbocharger to sideline him once again.
Already resigned to starting last in Malaysia, Ferrari took the opportunity to claim three new power unit elements for Vettel, with the usual 20-place grid penalty having no effect on his starting position.
Ferrari’s move was confirmed by the FIA ahead of the race after a request was filed with the stewards on Saturday night to take a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H.
The decision means Vettel has these additional power unit elements to use between now and the end of the season, easing concerns about a possible grid penalty during the height of his title fight with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
The damage may already have been done, though. With Hamilton starting on pole in Malaysia, Vettel is facing the prospect of the 28-point deficit growing significantly on Sunday.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am on Sunday.