SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel's Sunday could not get much worse after engine problems at the Japanese Grand Prix all but killed off his title hopes, but Formula One stewards reprimanded him anyway for missing the national anthem before the race.
The German failed to turn up on time for the Japanese anthem, an understandable absence given the commotion around his car as mechanics hurried to fix a sparkplug problem.
The non-driving reprimand for the rules breach, as opposed to one handed out for something that happened on the track, was his first of the season.
Vettel lasted only four laps of the race before the unresolved issue forced him to retire, a setback that left Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton 59 points clear at the top with four races remaining.
There are two types of reprimand, for driving and non-driving offences, with three reprimands in a season triggering an automatic 10-place grid penalty for the next race.
The penalty, however, is only imposed if at least two of the three reprimands were for a driving infringement.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Toby Davis)