Things just don’t seem to be getting any better for Sebastian Vettel.
With a dominant Mercedes already having wrapped up a fourth consecutive Constructors’ Championship, and his great rival Lewis Hamilton on the verge in the Drivers’ Championship, all hasn’t exactly gone to plan since the proud former world champ joined Ferrari.
Vettel will have been determined to salvage whatever he can for the remainder of the season, and looking for signs the oldest, most decorated team, are close to competing again next year.
But, in a latest setback, where again small mistakes marred his second practice in Mexico, the cockpit fire extinguisher went off in Vettel's car, forcing him out of the car and into the pits to change his overalls.
After informing his crew that “something burst", the German emerged with a visible burnt patch.
After the practice session, Vettel revealed what actually happened.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked what caused the fire extinguisher to go off.
“Some screw came loose and obviously the pressure found its way out which wasn’t that pleasant for me.”
It cost Ferrari a lot of time, time that Vettel could scarcely afford and will have served to compound another frustrating Friday for Vettel, who otherwise did well to recover.
He could, however, only finish fourth fastest with a best time of 1:18.051, 0.250s off the quickest time set by Daniel Ricciardo and 0.119s off title rival Lewis Hamilton.
The Mexico track, however, has been problematic for the Mercedes car.
Despite the long straights and slow corners in which the German outfit has again excelled, its high altitude allows little downforce.
In conditions and races this season where maximum downforce has been employed to compensate (see Monaco), it is Ferrari, not Mercedes, who came out on top.
Thankfully, despite an issue that proved more comedic than anything serious, a loose screw and a burst fire extinguisher will likely not be the difference maker in the race, and can’t be used an excuse for Ferrari’s ongoing troubles.
Vettel will be viewing the race as an opportunity to be laying down a marker and strike a blow ahead of next season.
It is practically odds on that Hamilton will clinch the world title in Mexico City, but for Vettel, the race for the 2018 Drivers’ Championship is already underway.