Horner: Vettel couldn't hear instruction to stop
26 March 2012 – Christian Horner has explained the series of seemingly confused radio messages sent to Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Following his contact with Narain Karthikeyan, the World Champion was running out of the points and told to retire, but failed to respond to his team’s requests.
Following the HRT collision, for which Karthikeyan was handed a 20-second penalty, Vettel picked up a left-rear puncture which dropped him from fourth place to outside the top ten. On the final lap, Race Engineer Guillaume Rocquelin instructed his driver to retire into the garage, then telling the German to stay out before returning with a more brisk message in which the command, ‘Emergency! Stop the car,’ was given.
Eventually, Vettel crossed the finish line in 11th place to mark his lowest race finishing position since the Belgian Grand Prix of 2010.
“We had lost all radio contact with Sebastian, which meant we could only speak with him via the pit board,” Team Principal Horner explains. “After his stop he came up to the HRT, who hit him and caused a puncture. The incident caused damage to the rear brake duct, which went into thermal runaway, so we wanted to stop the car before the end from a safety point of view. Seb didn’t hear us on the radio and continued.
“Thankfully his car got to the end without failing, but the incident cost Sebastian at least a fourth place finish today. For Mark, after his final stop his pace on the Slicks was good and he started to catch Lewis (Hamilton) in the last third of the race. He finished in fourth position after what was a very eventful race.”
After two incident-packed and winless races, the World Champion is placed sixth in the Drivers’ standings behind Sepang star Sergio Pérez, with Red Bull second for team honours and 13 points behind leaders McLaren.