• Australian Grand Prix

Loose wheel nut to blame for Vettel's retirement

ESPNF1 Staff
March 29, 2010 « Webber apologises for Hamilton crash | »
Sebastian Vettel was leading the race with ease before his accident © Sutton Images

A loose wheel nut has been blamed for Sebastian Vettel's retirement from the Australian Grand Prix, after he lost control under braking on lap 25.

A spark plug cost Vettel victory in Bahrain, and with his retirement from the lead in Melbourne, he has twice missed out on a potential 25-point finish. Auto Motor und Sport reports the left front wheel nut worked loose and damaged the mounting on his Red Bull, which made the car very unpredictable under braking and speared him into the gravel at Turn 13.

It took just 15 minutes for head of engineering Ian Morgan, designer Adrian Newey and their boss Christian Horner to diagnose the problem. Suspecting a mistake with the fitting of the wheel in the pitstop, Horner said: "In 6000 kilometres of testing nothing like this happened."

After the race Vettel said: "I had some sparks coming up from the front left wheel; we didn't know what it was and so wanted to pit. Then, a couple of corners before, I had huge vibrations building up and as soon as I touched the brakes, I had some sort of failure going in to Turn 13 and ended up in the gravel. There was nothing I could have done, I lost the car and that was it."

Vettel is now 25 points behind Fernando Alonso's early title lead.

"Of course it is annoying, yet another defect," he said. "I could be going to Malaysia with 50 points."