Are Ferrari running out of steam in the F1 title race? That’s the verdict of Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle following the Italian team’s disappointing weekend at the Japanese Grand Prix.
After suffering engine problems at the Suzuka circuit, Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire just four laps into the race in Japan - and could only watch as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took the chequered flag.
Hamilton is now 59 points ahead of Vettel in the drivers’ championship, with only 100 points now up for grabs and four grands prix left this season. The British driver can secure the F1 championship if he wins at the United States GP on 22 October and Vettel fails to finish higher than sixth.
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Japan was just the latest disappointment for Vettel, who before the summer break was 14 points ahead of Hamilton in the title race.
Brundle says reliability is a huge issue for Ferrari. “It looks like the Ferraris are beginning to run out of reliability and steam at the end of the season,” says the F1 commentator.
“It’s like they have wrung out every ounce of performance through the year. They’re just giving up a bit now and we’ve seen a lot of unreliability creeping in. The car is so strong and so fast but that’s hurt their championship hopes big time.”
Vettel told Sky Sports that his team would have to go “flat out” in the final four races.
“It’s normal you’re critical, especially if things go wrong, so it’s part of our job,” he said. “I think I need to protect them. We’ve done an incredible job so far. Bitter the past two races with the reliability issues - but you know, it’s like that sometimes.
“Of course it hurts and we’re all disappointed, but now we need to get back, get some rest and then go flat out for the last four races and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton remains grounded, despite his huge lead. He told the BBC: “I just have to keep my head down and keep doing what I’ve been doing.
“There are still 100 points available. We’ve still got to win the next four races.”
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