Software glitch thwarts Vettel as he begins title defence and quest for fifth title

Arare early shower for Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne

A rare early shower for Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne

Red Bull were left puzzling over an engine software problem which left Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel struggling in Qualifying on Saturday, endangering his bid for a record 10th consecutive win.

The German missed out on the top 10 starting grid positions for the first time since Abu Dhabi in 2012 as Lewis Hamilton claimed the pole for Mercedes in Sunday’s Australian season-opener.

The problem with the software related to his Red Bull’s Renault engine badly affected the car’s performance in what were difficult, wet conditions at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Vettel’s attempt to reach the final stage of qualifying was set back further when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen went off in Q2, meaning that the cars behind him were ordered to slow down.

It was a significant setback for Vettel after Red Bull appeared to have overcome serious mechanical issues in pre-season with an encouraging first day of practice on Friday.

Vettel is searching for a fifth straight world title and a record 10 wins in a row but instead it was his new teammate Daniel Ricciardo who will start from the front row Sunday.

Sebastian Vettel did not make it out of Q2 in Australia

Sebastian Vettel did not make it out of Q2 in Australia

“I think we have made a big step forward with the car, but of course I’m not happy that we didn’t make it to Q3,” Vettel said.

“I think the car is quick, but we struggled this afternoon with driveability which, in these [wet] conditions, made it even worse.

“The car seems good and Daniel did a very good job to be on the front row, so congratulations to him.”

He added: “It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and reliability will be the most important thing to make it to the flag, but I think there will be lots of opportunities for us.”

Team Principal Christian Horner said: “It was unlucky for Seb. His engine software meant he was down on power with extremely poor driveability and we need to understand that, as it compromised his qualifying session.” (AFP)

Subbed by AJN.

  • karlich

    Damn :( Hope it’s not a PR excuse and he really had a SW glitch – I know my code usually does, so why not theirs too?! Let’s see how the race proceeds.

  • bobmendon

    Everything I have read points to software.

  • Resultant Asteroid

    It has to be car-related anyway … what else can justify a 2.3 sec difference between him and Ricciardo, not to mention how well Seb does in wet conditions anyway ;-)

  • http://darrenstuart.com ninjamonk

    whatever it was, it was really weird to see Dr Marko in the other side of the garage celebrating ;)

  • RBC

    Another article has Vettel saying that Red Bull uploaded new software to Vettel’s car which was meant to make it more drivable, but had the opposite effect, thus stating it was a software issue. That then raises the question of why did Vettel get the new supposedly better software on his car, and Daniel got the old software? Webber hinted for years at Vettel favoritism in the team. Is this proof of that?

  • Amos James

    Seb is number one. If he yelled for a change, he would get it. Remember 2012 when webber was beating him and the car was continually updated to suit vettel and webber stayed with the old configuration? It didn’t work at first. …

  • haloguy628

    So the supposed virtuoso of car control can’t control the new car that has a lot more torque and weird braking profile due to KERS system and can’t even make it to the third qual session, but the new guy who came from second rate team shows great skills and qualifies for second position?

    That brings the question about Red Bull cheating and the rumored traction control software on last year car in forefront.

  • karlich

    Vettel said “There wasn’t supposed to be a difference, but today we had problems on my side, so we need to understand,” and “There was a different set up in the car, a different software out take.”

    A different out take – out take meaning cut or part – which isn’t uncommon in software development or elsewhere for that matter. A/B testing is an effective way to finding better solutions. The software is the same, but there can be several concrete implementations of a common interface.

    Either way, I see no favoritism in that but a sound team approach to finding proper solutions faster. If both had the same setup and software configuration today, both would be out of Q3. Could have caught Ricciardo, ended up biting Vettel, but at least one of them is way up front and as a team they’ve performed well.

    As for favoritism in times where they don’t even know whether and/or who will finish a race, it doesn’t make sense from a team’s view to favor a single driver even if it’s one who happens to have won 4 titles for them.

    As for favoritism in the past, in other words against Webber, Vettel trotted all over him in his first year at RBR, snatched their first title in his second by trotting over him yet again and from then on Webber can hint all he wants, Vettel was the #1. Of course, that’s my view and many may not agree. Fine by me – not going to debate over this.

  • Amos James

    Everything you have read? Do they let you read much in prison, bob?

  • RBC

    No it was another article and he said something else. I also read those words. But the other article quoted him differently. Maybe an earlier interview before he got his story prepared.

    As for Webber, his starts which were managed by the team where they set the clutch point of the car based on telemetry, he regularly stared badly. As soon as Vettel had the championship sown up Webber’s starts improved.

    There is a story from formula BMW days where Vettel had the team steal his team mate’s chassis between qualifying and the race when the guy out qualified Vettel. He has a long history of wanting preferential treatment. Like his hero Schumacher.

  • RBC

    Magnussen to Button was about the same gap Q3, Q2 and Q1, so I guess Button had software issues also?

  • karlich

    So why didn’t he receive Dani’s car? Why didn’t they just revert to Dani’s software version? Why didn’t they just put Seb’s helmet on Dani and make pretend?

    Oh I do love all this lore & fables about Seb & RBR :p

  • RBC

    Marko said this after the race: “”We tried some new software but it did not work.” So Marko admitted to it. Google the article.

    You know you are crazy with your ideas here but I am speaking facts. They could not openly change the cars or change the helmets. But they can change the software. The villain always pretends to be the friend, while secretly being the villain.

    Schumacher had better tires and car that Irvine and Barichello and pretended he was the better driver. That is called an unfair advantage. Which is why many people call him a cheat. Google “Schumacher cheat” and see what you get. Google “Vettel cheat” and see what you get.

    They could have reverted to Daniel’s software between Q3 and Q2 but they thought Vettel’s software was better. That is what Marko and Vettel said. Which is why they tried it on Vettel’s car and not on Ricciard’s car. While they were wrong with the outcome the intention was clear. Give Vettel an advantage.

    And people who HATE facts love to call them lore and fable. I’m just quoting Marko. Fact. Google it if you dare.

  • RBC

    Google this…

    From article called “Webber: the stopwatch doesn’t lie.” – Dominik Jackson says “Our pre-season test was at Hockenheim and I was consistently faster than Seb. Before leaving I recorded my engine and chassis numbers, and when we arrived at the first round two weeks later they had swapped our chassis!… At the European Grand Prix support race I got pole and Seb was so pissed off that he ignored the chequered flag and tried again. He got a fine (but) when I got back to the paddock, pretty much the whole team stopped talking to me… I got on pole, yet there is a negative vibe”.