While leading the race some 2 to 3 seconds from Fernando Alonso, the German driver reported to his team via radio that he is lacking power from his engine. While analyzing the data, his race engineer told him that he's dealing with an exhaust problem that's impossible to resolve during race time.
Shortly after that, Vettel was easily overtaken by Alonso and, during the course of the next lap, by the other Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. Eventually, the Red Bull driver dropped another position – to Lewis Hamilton – and had to settle for 4th place overall.
According to the Austrian team, the engine problem was caused by a faulty spark plug, which didn't damaged the unit beyond repair. So it's likely that the engine will be again used by Vettel, probably in the practice session of the Aussie GP.
A disappointed Vettel admitted his frustrations after a race that he had perfectly controlled for about 30 laps, adding that at least he got to score some 12 points for the team.
“It's not easy. You are leading, everything is fine and you just have to bring the car home. And then we had the failure and initially you don't know what it is or whether it is going to get worse or better. At the end it seemed to kind of recover but it wasn't it great but it cost us a lot. At least we scored 12 important points,” said the German driver after the race.