Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel said his Formula One season could not get any worse after his return to racing with Aston Martin ended with a crash at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The German, who missed the first races of the season in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia due to a positive Covid-19 test, lost control on kerbing at turn five and veered into a wall on the 29th lap.
Starting 17th on the grid and having barely had any time in the seat of his car, Vettel was up against it at Albert Park.
His car lost power near the end of the first free practice on Friday and he was forced to miss the entire second session while repairs were made.
He crashed out of Saturday's final practice after a handful of laps, then barely had time to complete a flying lap during qualifying.
Epic work from @AstonMartinF1 got Sebastian Vettel's car back into shape for qualifying ??????#AusGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/YLgxsY43x2— Formula 1 (@F1) April 9, 2022
"It was more challenging not to have the running, obviously partly because we lost time with the car, and then with the Saturday morning incidents (it) doesn't help," he said in the Albert Park paddock.
"But I'm sure it will get better. It can't get any worse."
His Canadian teammate Lance Stroll finished 12th after starting at the back of the grid, but also had a poor weekend overall.
He was given a grid penalty on Saturday for crashing into Nicholas Latifi's Williams car and then a five-second penalty on Sunday for weaving on the straight during the race.
The German driver also incurred two fines during the weekend for speeding in the pit lane in qualifying.
He broke the 80km/h pit lane speed limit at Albert Park by 5.1km/h and Aston Martin were subsequently given a €600 fine, after he had rushed to get out to qualifying in the last few minutes when his car was fixed.
Luckily for Vettel, a red flag signaled for a clash between teammate Lance Stroll and Williams' Nicholas Latifi, gave the German a chance to take part in qualifying amid frantic car repairs.
This is the most iconic end to a practice session we can remember ??#AusGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/4jPlAZotzd— Formula 1 (@F1) April 8, 2022
It added to a €5000 fine that Vettel himself received on Friday, having driven a scooter on track to get back to the pits after his Aston Martin suffered an engine-related stoppage. Even though everyone will admit, seeing Vettel doing a lap on said scooter was the most wholesome thing we saw all weekend - Ed.
Aston Martin are now the only team yet to score a point this season.
Vettel said things could only get better.
"Obviously we now have a lot of parts that are damaged. I'm sure we'll have a better weekend next time round," said the German.