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Blowout brings Vettel back down to earth

March 26, 2012 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel became the youngest double world champion in Formula One's history with his triumph last season.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel became the youngest double world champion in Formula One's history with his triumph last season.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sebastian Vettel blames collision with Narain Karthikeyan for poor result in Malaysia
  • The two-time world champion finished 11th after suffering a puncture
  • Vettel finished outside of the points for the first time since the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix
  • The German also lost radio contact with his team in the pit lane after the contact

(CNN) -- After two races of the 2011 Formula One season, Sebastian Vettel had racked up back-to-back wins and was on his way to emphatically retaining the world drivers' championship.

The Red Bull star is now seeking to become the third man to win three consecutive titles, but it is not yet quite going to plan.

He conjured up second place in Melbourne after starting sixth on the grid, but disaster struck in rain-hit Malaysia on Sunday as the German finished out of the points for the first time since August 2010.

The 24-year-old struggled home in 11th after losing radio contact with his team and suffering a punctured tire trying to overtake backmarker Narain Karthikeyan of HRT -- who he blamed for the incident.

Australian Grand Prix: March 18, Melbourne<br/><br/>2012 champion: Jenson Button, McLaren Australian Grand Prix: March 18, Melbourne

2012 champion: Jenson Button, McLaren
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Formula One 2012: The circuits Formula One 2012: The circuits
The 2012 Formula One season sees the introduction of a four-hour limit for races, following last year's rain-delayed marathon in Canada. Charlie Whiting, the FIA's race director, explained the decision, telling the sport's official website: "Should four hours elapse during a future race, drivers will receive a signal telling them they have one more lap before the checkered flag." The 2012 Formula One season sees the introduction of a four-hour limit for races, following last year's rain-delayed marathon in Canada. Charlie Whiting, the FIA's race director, explained the decision, telling the sport's official website: "Should four hours elapse during a future race, drivers will receive a signal telling them they have one more lap before the checkered flag."
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Formula One rule changes for 2012 Formula One rule changes for 2012

Latest Formula One standings

"We lost radio communication and that makes it very difficult in these conditions to know what's going on," he told reporters after failing to follow up his 2010 and 2011 victories at Sepang. "Nonetheless we did our maximum and got up to fourth.

"To then lose the race how I did is very frustrating. Some people need to look more where they are going. Having no radio meant we were delayed getting the messages and I didn't hear anything from the team at the end.

"There were no points for me. Before the incident with HRT, the way the race had unfolded was good for us I think, so it's frustrating to lose the race like that."

Team principal Christian Horner revealed that the contact had caused damage to Vettel's car, but the lack of radio contact made it impossible to communicate with him.

"We had lost all radio contact with Sebastian, which meant we could only speak with him via the pit board," he said. "After his stop he came up to the HRT, who hit him and caused a puncture.

Some people need to look more where they are going
Sebastian Vettel

"The incident caused damage to the rear brake duct, which went into thermal runaway, so we wanted to stop the car before the end from a safety point of view. Seb didn't hear us on the radio and continued.

"Thankfully his car got to the end without failing, but the incident cost Sebastian at least a fourth-place finish."

It was a better weekend for Vettel's veteran teammate Mark Webber, who finished fourth despite torrential race which stopped the race for almost an hour.

"It was busy with a lot of calls going on at the restart and with the tires," the 35-year-old Australian said.

"My stint on the intermediates after the red flag was tricky and I didn't have much confidence. When I went onto the dry tires, I felt much more confident, but it was a little bit too late then."

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