Sebastian Vettel’s faint hopes of winning a fourth straight Singapore Grand Prix took a hit in practice when an engine failure forced him to sit out most of the second session on Friday night.
However, the German driver remains upbeat about his chances this weekend, believing that the pace of the RB10 is good around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
In FP1, Vettel finished fourth behind Fernando Alonso and the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, after posting his final time at the end of the session, he was ordered to quickly stop his car and pull over at the end of the pit lane. The team then wheeled his stricken vehicle back to the garage with a suspected engine failure.
For most of the second session – some two hours later – Vettel was left sitting out of his car as the team worked to repair the problem. In the end, it was fixed with just 10 minutes remaining, allowing the four-time world champion to complete five laps and post a lap time good enough for fifth place in the final classification.
“Was today unlucky? I don’t believe in good luck and bad luck,” Vettel said. “I think we did a lot in the last few years that was right and we weren’t just lucky then. This year it’s a bit different and we have had some problems, but that’s part of life.
“We have overcome the troubles that we have had and it’s progressively getting better. In terms of pace it’s looking good this weekend. It was important to get a good feel on the super-soft tire.”
Vettel was quick to thank his team for repairing the car so quickly, replacing the engine – usually a four-hour job – in just three.
“The mechanics were pushing hard and changed the engine in less than three hours after FP1, which is a massive job, so thanks to them that I was able to get out in the second session.”
Vettel will not face a penalty for changing his engine as it was his ‘practice’ unit, and the team would have reverted to another one for tomorrow’s running anyway.
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.