Engine problems threaten Ferrari challenge to Mercedes

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SAKHIR, Bahrain (AP) Ferrari’s goal of challenging the dominance of Mercedes is being threatened by engine troubles which struck again in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix when Sebastian Vettel’s engine failed on the warm-up lap.

Vettel had qualified third and was confident of a strong start to match the one he made in the season-opener in Australia, but he did not get a chance to again out-drag the Mercedes pair as his engine suffered what was initially diagnosed as a valve or injector failure.

Coming on top of Kimi Raikkonen’s non-finish in Australia due to a problem with the turbo charger, Ferrari already has serious issues to address if it is to live up to its billing as the only team capable of challenging Mercedes for this season’s title.

“We need to understand exactly the problem and learn from it,” Vettel said. “It is not ideal and we can’t be proud of it. But we had a good preparation over the winter, we are pushing very hard and we know that we can still improve.

“We still have a lot of races ahead of us, this is going to be a long year so even if today it was not good because I couldn’t score any point, we’ll make sure that the next race goes a lot better.”

Vettel’s absence was partly offset by a good performance by Raikkonen, who overcame a slow start due to his fingers slipping off the clutch at lights out to finish second without ever truly threatening race winner Nico Rosberg.

“Considering what happened in the first lap it’s a pretty OK result,” Raikkonen said. “It’s not ideal for the team to have only one car finishing the race. In this sport we always push to the limits and sometimes things can go wrong, this is not what we want but it’s part of racing. We know that the car is pretty good but we have certain things to improve and still some work to be done.”