The F1 Ferrari team gave up the chance to win to reduce the risk of Sebastian Vettel getting electrocuted in the Russian Grand Prix.
Less than two minutes after leaving the pit, Vettel informed his team that he felt the car losing power. He quickly realized the problem was with the kinetic energy recovery unit (MGU-K).
Vettel must obey the directions, drive right to the right of the road and stop near the emergency exit. He quickly got out of the car, climbed over the fence. Vettel’s parking location was only 100 meters from the pit entrance, and several dozen meters from the emergency exit. But, the 32-year-old driver still has to stop the car as quickly as possible.
Vettel gave up in Russia GP 2019
Ferrari accepted to give up the opportunity to win the Russian Grand Prix, to limit the risk of electric shock from Vettel. In August 2008 at Jerez track, Spain, Christian Klein raced a F1.08 on the pit after a test run. When he stopped, a BMW Sauber engineer approached and put his hands on the car. The engineer was immediately about a meter from the car, due to the electric shock of the 12 V from the kinetic energy recovery unit – then called KERS. Sauber representative revealed engineers extremely painful, but not life-threatening.
Sauber engineer was shocked in a short time, due to electrical contact for a moment. Vettel’s case could be worse, when he was tied to the cockpit. The driver’s outfit is insulated. But with the big leakage in the energy department, no one guaranteed Vettel would be safe if he stayed in the cockpit. That is why the four-time world champion is required to leave the vehicle as quickly as possible.
In the 2018 season, Daniel Ricciardo helped Red Bull win at the Monaco Grand Prix despite the MGU-K error. Vettel can still “try to eat sticky rice”, or take the car to the pit if the problem is only in MGU-K. But the SF90 lost its insulation, leaving him with no other choice.
The reason the Vettel car insulation system is broken has not been announced by Ferrari. Some journalists believe that the fact that the German racer achieved the fastest lap in the first rounds was due to the fact that he used a strong engine mode for too long. That damages the machine in the long run. But that is only a hypothesis.