Australian GP: Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel`s season begins with retirement

By Jayanta Oinam | Updated: Mar 17, 2014, 00:05 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam

Melbourne: The season started with a bang, with new kids making all the right noises in Formula One`s yet another challenging year. But, unluckily for the reigning champion, Sebastian Vettel, the Albert Park race proved a denouement, of sorts. It is still too early to pronounce such a verdict for the four-time back-to-back champion, though.

Going by the script – starting with pre-season testings to the qualifiers and then Sunday`s race, things are not looking good for the German driver.

In the run up to season opener in Melbourne, the German expressed his dissatisfaction with the manner in which the defending champions have been entering the championship.

Widely believed to be the best team, the imperious Red Bull Racing (RBR) failed to cope with the new turbo-charged V6 engine, supplied by their usual partner Renault. During the pre-season testings, the Austrian outfit showed signs of disintegration, albeit of a different manner– in their composer and assurance.

Despite all the negative feedbacks, RBR – for all the experience they have gained in the last few years, showed why they were champions by coming back strongly in the Saturday qualifying.

Their new recruit, Australian Daniel Ricciardo – who replaced compatriot Mark Webber, showed the true pace of RB9 by qualifying second. However, Vettel failed in his pursuit and could only managed a 13th place during the qualification.

On Sunday, starting from an unusual position -- in the middle of the grid, Vettel announced his retirement as early as the 12th lap. In his communication with the team in the paddock, he said that the ``engine is not running smoothly`, thus ending his nine consecutive race victories.

The former Sauber driver did complain about the lack of boost during the installation lap, but comparing with his younger team-mate`s performance, it was all but a sorry story to tell.