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GP Week : Issue 159
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel recorded his first retirement from a Grand Prix in 2012 after an otherwise dominating performance on the streets of Valencia. The German had opened a 20-second gap before the mid-race safety car period, but lasted less than a lap after the Safety Car pitted before his “alternator” gave up the ghost. He wasn’t the only Renault- powered driver to suffer from alternator problems, with Lotus’s Romain Grosjean also coasting to a halt while in the podium position. The Frenchman was chasing Alonso down for the lead before stopping 17 laps from the finish, having looked a strong threat for the win. Vettel was seen throwing his gloves away in frustration after retiring from the lead, but was nevertheless pleased with the pace the car had shown until then: “I lost acceleration, the engine stalled and I couldn’t do anything; that was it. You can’t change it now,” he said. “Up until that point it was clear we were strong, I was very happy in the car and had the pace. We were very quick today and it felt good.” The alternators are both of Renault design and supply, and although the French engine manufacturer still doesn’t know the cause of the failures, the faults are believed to be different. “We do need to hold our hands up and apologise to both Red Bull and Lotus,” said Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations. “Both suffered alternator failures, although it seems for different reasons at this point in time. Sebastian’s overheated and the engine shut down, while Romain’s alternator failed and the electrical power to the engine stopped. “We will of course thoroughly investigate the reasons for this when we get the units back to Viry to try and ensure that we do not have the same issue in the future.” Renault Sport F1’s headquarters in Viry will be heaving with activity this week, as the supplier also has to investigate a KERS failure on Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham. ALTERNATOR PROBLEMS COST VETTEL AND GROSJEAN F1 >>> EUROPE 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: