Abu dhabi, Nov 13, 2011 (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel said he and Red Bull were puzzled and perplexed on Sunday by the puncture that forced him to retire from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the opening lap.
The double world champion 24-year-old German led from pole position into Turn One, but as he entered the next corner he lost control of his car and spun off the circuit.
His right rear tyre had suffered a puncture that led to instant deflation and wrecked his race, forcing him to retire for the first time in more than a year since the Korean Grand Prix of 2010.
"To be honest, at the exit of the first corner everything seemed fine," said Vettel after the race.
"As soon as I started turning in for the second corner, I could feel something was odd on the rear right and then I had to catch the car surprisingly.
"The second time I had to catch it, I couldn't do it anymore. I'd lost too much air already on the rear right and had a puncture and spun off.
"On the way back, I damaged the suspension so badly that we couldn't carry on."
He said he had no idea why why the puncture happened, but said it was something the team needed to look into.
"It looks like on the exit we lost tyre pressure and then the tyre was flat by the time I went in to turn two. I don't really know why, there's nothing that I did different to any other laps, or different to any other drivers."
"So we need to really understand what exactly caused the puncture -- and whether it was an issue with the tyre, whether I ran off the track too much, cut the kerb at a funny angle, I don't know."
Vettel added that he did not know if he would have won the race after retaining the lead at the start.
"Up until that point, I think we had a very good start, I was very happy with the car and it's hard to say how quick we could have been," he said.
"I think Mark [Webber] had a difficult race. His pace looked good so I think the car was in good shape. On the other hand I think Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando [Alonso] drove a solid race at the front and had good pace.
"I think we would have had a chance, but it's difficult to stand here and tell you what could have been. It's difficult to know what could have been -- in the end it didn't happen because we didn't make it much more than one lap."