Sebastian Vettel will make a brief appearance during qualifying on Saturday ahead of the US grand prix in Austin.
Earlier, team figures suggested the reigning world champion would sit out the session because penalties for running his sixth ‘power unit’ of 2014 means he will start the race from pitlane.
Red Bull has now confirmed Vettel’s pitlane start, but it appears the 27-year-old will no longer simply sit out the qualifying action.
Rumours suggest the FIA was unimpressed with Vettel and the team’s vocal criticisms of the long-life engine rules and the associated penalties.
It might mean stewards are less inclined to give the German driver an exemption from the 107 per cent qualifying rule and force him to also sit out the race.
Another rumour is that Bernie Ecclestone put pressure on Red Bull to at least send Vettel onto the circuit during the ‘Q1’ session, to appease the locals and television audience.
“Out of respect for the audience,” confirmed the German newspaper Bild, “Red Bull decided late on Friday afternoon to let Vettel drive at least in the first session of qualifying, although he will start the race from pitlane.”
Meanwhile, American F1 legend and 1978 world champion Mario Andretti has tipped Vettel to emulate Michael Schumacher’s success once he switches to Ferrari from 2015.
“Michael knew exactly what he was doing,” the 74-year-old told the German newspaper Die Welt ahead of the US grand prix.
“He took the men who he succeeded with at Benetton to Ferrari and after a few years they were unbeatable.
“I would advise Sebastian to do the same — maybe he will even persuade Adrian Newey to go with him.
“That would certainly be the ideal situation, because – for sure – Ferrari needs more than just a new driver,” Andretti added. (GMM)