Vettel down but not out after qualifying blow

Sat Nov 3, 2012 5:24pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel was down but not out after his hopes of winning Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix disappeared as fast as a Formula One car roaring into the distance.

The double world champion, 13 points ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with three races remaining, will start from the pit lane after being sent from third place to the back of the grid for a fuel irregularity.

"One of the best ski jumpers (Finland's former Olympic champion Matti Nykanen) of all times once said ‘Every chance is an opportunity' and as far as we are concerned there are still plenty of chances tomorrow," declared the German in a team statement.

Vettel has led every lap of the last three races and would have been chasing a fifth win in succession under the floodlights of the glittering Yas Marina circuit.

Instead it will be a case of damage limitation at a circuit where most drivers are likely to do one pitstop and where overtaking has never been easy.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner, who had hoped to see his team clinch the constructors' title on Sunday for the third year in a row, told reporters that the stewards' decision was "frustrating, annoying and one of those things.

"If he manages to get into the points tomorrow that would be a great achievement," he added.

Vettel had been told to stop immediately on track, to protect the engine, after qualifying as he returned to the pits.   Continued...

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany sits in his car during the qualifying session of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island November 3, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem