Formula One: Vettel won't need to switch gearbox; Mallya re-arrested

Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari gets into his car during the third practise session for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari gets into his car during the third practise session for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Formula One title contender Sebastian Vettel received some good news yesterday, after his Ferrari team ruled out a gearbox change that would have incurred a grid penalty at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

He is 34 points behind Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton (281) with five races remaining, including Sunday's at Suzuka.

Vettel failed to set a qualifying time in Malaysia, so he had to start at the back of the grid despite Ferrari having been fastest in practice. But he limited the damage, finishing fourth, just two places behind Hamilton in Sepang's final race which was won by Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

But the German's bad luck did not end there. The gearbox scare followed a bizarre post-race incident, where his car was hit from behind by Canadian Lance Stroll's Williams on the slowing down lap.

The impact wrecked the car's rear suspension.

A change of gearbox, as it had not lasted six consecutive events, would have meant a five-place grid penalty for a race that Vettel needs to win. But Ferrari gave the all-clear after a factory inspection.

"The gearbox #Seb5 (Vettel) used in #MalaysiaGP is still available," they said on Twitter.

A gearbox penalty would have been another major blow to Vettel's hopes of winning the championship, especially with Mercedes expected to return to form at the high-speed Suzuka circuit.

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  • Grid penalty if Sebastian Vettel had to change his gearbox for the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, because it had not lasted six consecutive races.

Meanwhile, Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant multimillionaire co-owner of the Force India Formula One team and self-proclaimed "King of the Good Times", was arrested again on Tuesday over allegations of supporting his team with money-laundered cash.

The Indian government accuses the 61-year-old of fleeing to Britain to avoid arrest in relation to over £1 billion (S$1.81 billion) of unpaid debts. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Mallya was re-arrested on Tuesday on behalf of the Indian authorities.

"The new charge is essentially showing where the money went to, for example, it is alleged that some of the funds ended up with the Force India racing team," it said.

Mallya denied the charges and was released on bail after a brief appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

"I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them," he said outside the court. "I have not eluded any court. If it is my lawful duty to be here, I'm happy to be here."

He was first arrested in April following the Indian's government request for his extradition to stand trial over an alleged debt of 94 billion rupees (S$1.96 billion) owed to state-owned banks after the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines in 2012.

The businessman, who is living in a £11.5 million mansion in Hertfordshire, southern England that was once owned by the father of three-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, is due back in court on Nov 20. An extradition hearing is scheduled to begin on Dec 4.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2017, with the headline 'Vettel won't need to switch gearbox; Mallya re-arrested'. Print Edition | Subscribe