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Japanese Grand Prix: Ferrari expect Sebastian Vettel to avoid grid penalty

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel hitched a lift with Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein after the collision with Lance Stroll

Ferrari believe Sebastian Vettel will avoid a grid penalty for a change of gearbox at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Vettel feared it had been damaged in the bizarre crash with Williams driver Lance Stroll in Malaysia on Sunday.

The device was flown back to Ferrari’s factory in Italy for inspection, and a spokesman said it “seems OK”.

Had it required changing, Vettel would have faced a five-place grid penalty – a blow in his title fight with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

The gearbox will be tried in practice at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, after which Ferrari will know definitively whether it can be used in qualifying and the race.

Vettel heads into the race at Suzuka 34 points behind Hamilton, with a maximum of 125 available over the remaining five grands prix.

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