Scuderia Ferrari confirmed that Sebastian Vettel’s Brazilian Grand Prix hopes were thwarted by a sensor problem, off the back of a low-key showing.
Vettel started from the front-row of the grid at Interlagos but slipped to third on the opening lap as he was overhauled by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
Vettel was demoted further by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and relinquished further ground when he slid wide later around the same lap, falling behind Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Vettel used the undercut to jump Raikkonen but he obliged when Ferrari told its drivers to swap positions, and lost fifth when a charging Daniel Ricciardo moved past.
It left Vettel at the back of the lead group – only once this season has he classified lower, when he finished eighth in China in the wake of a collision.
“Right from the formation lap, we became aware of a problem with a sensor on Seb’s car,” confirmed Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene.
“This meant that, for the whole race, he had to run different settings to those we would have normally used and that made the car difficult to drive.”
Vettel accepted he and Ferrari “weren’t quick enough” and on a scale of one to 10 ranked his display at the lower end.
“Well I tried everything but obviously in terms of the result, one, and one being bad,” he said.
“It’s just a difficult afternoon, trying to – I don’t think we were on top of the car, the tyres, trying to… I don’t think it was an advantage to be honest starting with the Softs. The Supersofts lasted a longer time, longer than I think we all expected. But that’s how it is.”