Sebastian Vettel feels it will be "a shame" if he is unable to run in qualifying ahead of Sunday’s US Grand Prix but admits his hands are tied by the regulations.
It appears almost certain Red Bull will have to change the complete power unit on Vettel’s car, which would incur a pit-lane start.
Vettel, in particular, has suffered numerous technical issues this season in comparison to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, and now the four-times champion is poised to take one more blow.
Just a year ago Vettel triumphed at the Circuit of the Americas at a time when he was thoroughly dominant, ending the season with a run of nine successive victories.
With Vettel leaving Red Bull for Ferrari after a miserable campaign, it is a case of how times have changed for the German.
“We need to see, we need to confirm, but yes, we have to get an extra power unit at some stage this season, and it’s very likely it will be for this event,” confirmed Vettel, speaking ahead of a demo run along the streets in his 2011 title-winning car.
“We had quite a bad first half of the season in terms of reliability, things happening which put us in a bad position. In practice we’ll definitely run to try to maximise the track time.
“But the focus will be more on the race because maybe qualifying for us is not that important if we have to start from the pit lane due to the regulations.
“I didn’t make them, but equally everyone has to respect them, and they are pretty clear.
“Once you decide to pull the joker and take all the pieces (of the power unit, which comprises six components), you have to start from the pit lane, even if you qualify on pole.
“So instead of burning mileage in qualifying, which you would regret later on in Brazil or Abu Dhabi where you might not see the finish line, you skip it.”
Suggested to Vettel he had a moral obligation to compete given the tens of thousands of fans who will turn up on Saturday, the 26-year-old was naturally dismissive.
“You can talk about obligations, but in the end we have to manage the situation with the engines. The rules are the same for everyone,” insisted Vettel.
“Obviously it was our fault to be very greedy at the beginning of the season in terms of having issues and with reliability, not taking the engines to the end of their lives.
“Daniel did a better job, or was a bit luckier in some circumstances. The situation is what it is. I’d love to change it, to qualify in the normal way and use every practice session to the maximum. It doesn’t look that way, but I see the point and it would be a shame (not to take part in qualifying).”