Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Formula One: Vettel’s anguish after crash cancels practice

Red Bull German driver Sebastian Vettel car is being covered by technicians at pits after crashing during the first free practice at the Istanbul Park circuit racetrack, in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, May 6, 2011. Vettel was unharmed after crashing his Red Bull car during the rainy first practice for the Turkish Grand Prix on Friday.The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Sebastian Vettel has apologised to his Red Bull team following a wretched start to his Turkish Grand Prix weekend.

Vettel was forced to watch the 90 minute afternoon practice session from the garage as his mechanics were unable to repair in time the car he smashed in the morning outing at the Istanbul Park circuit.

The 23-year-old paid the penalty for a rare mistake in what has so far been a near-perfect season with two wins and a second from his three poles in the opening three grands prix.

On a wet circuit, Vettel ran a little wide on the exit of the infamous Turn Eight, a triple-apex left-hander that exerts forces of 5g on the body.

That was enough to send the Red Bull star spinning across the track before slamming into a barrier, severely damaging the front and right side of his car.

“There wasn't much I could do to stop the car from hitting the wall, but the most important thing is I'm fine,” said Vettel.

“We couldn't get the car ready in time for this afternoon's session as there was too much damage, so I'm sorry to the guys.

“It makes things a bit more difficult, but I don't think it will be a problem because we know the track well from other years.

“In the end it was only one afternoon we lost. I'm still confident.”

Team principal Christian Horner was able to forgive Vettel his mistake, describing it as “one of those things”.

“It was a shame, and I can't remember the last time Sebastian went off,” said Horner.

“As the rain increased slightly he got a little high on the kerb at the exit of Turn Eight, put a wheel on the Astroturf where there is little to zero grip and it spun him off into the barrier.

“He was just unlucky. Unfortunately it did quite extensive damage — he managed to hit about every corner on the car — and has given the boys plenty of work to do this evening.

“Rather than cobble together a car for second practice, we decided it was important to rebuild the car carefully in preparation for tomorrow.

“He missed out on running time, but he has saved a few tyres, and you never know he might need them. Other than that, the information I have is we are in reasonable shape.”

Jenson Button set the pace for McLaren with Lewis Hamilton half a second back in third.

Vettel missed the second session, in which team-mate Mark Webber was fifth.

Nico Rosberg was second, 0.542 seconds and two places ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was hampered by a hydraulics problem and finished 1.613 seconds off the pace in 11th.

Meanwhile, Paul di Resta is determined to prove his top 10 qualifying act in China three weeks ago was no fluke.

Star turn Di Resta continued on his upward curve in his Formula One debut campaign by grabbing eighth place on the grid at the Shanghai International Circuit.

In a car that many expected to be firmly rooted in midfield for the opening salvos of the season, the 25-year-old Scot caused a major surprise.

The feat was more remarkable when you consider Force India only qualified eighth or higher on three occasions last season.

But having set such a benchmark as he continues to makes waves in F1, the trick for Di Resta now is to quickly repeat the feat.

“I hope it was not a one-off,” said Di Resta. “At the same time, given how close it was in the midfield I don't think we can go in here saying we are going to get into Q3 or where we are going to be.

“It depends on your package and what you have got out of it, as well as how prepared you are going to the GP.”

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