Sebastian Vettel victim of 'rubbish rule' at United States GP

Lynette Rowe
October 21, 2018

Hamilton can equal the South American's haul on Sunday with three races to spare, the 33-year-old Mercedes driver needing only to score eight points more than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the U.S. Grand Prix.

Hamilton won his third championship at the Texan track in 2015 and has been nearly unbeatable in Austin, winning five of the six races there since Texas first appeared on the calendar in 2012.

Hamilton, who replaced the senior Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, believes the newly crowned F3 champion has both the name and talent to make it to F1.

The stewards' decision, made in wet conditions, had reduced Vettel's slim title chances according to Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and means that he can not start on the front row of the grid for a race in which he knows another Mercedes one-two will give Hamilton his fifth drivers' title.

Still, Vettel was philosophical. "Bit of a shame to just miss out". He stands on the brink of being crowned for a fifth time, but knows better than anyone that you can't relax until you know it's signed, sealed and delivered - just look at what happened in 2007, when his seemingly impregnable lead evaporated in China and Brazil.

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In line with sanctions issued to Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in Australia and Force India's Esteban Ocon in Japan, Vettel was handed a three-place grid penalty.

Vettel said he slowed enough to respect the situation, adding that he felt unhappy at the use of precise delta times. "The Ferraris are obviously really quick", Hamilton said.

He railed against the verdict and the rule afterwards, but it was the latest in a string of unforced Ferrari blunders that have all but handed the title to Hamilton, who, as a year ago, has grown stronger as the season has gone on.

Lewis Hamilton described Juan Manuel Fangio as the "godfather" of Formula One on Thursday and said it was insane to think he could soon join the late Argentine as a five times world champion.

It confirmed a "double-top" for the Briton who had also been fastest in the morning's opening session and who needs to outscore Vettel of Ferrari by eight points to wrap up the 2018 championship. "In FP1 I only did a few laps because we need the tires to last until FP3 and there's very little to learn in the rain". Vettel, 31, has four championships but none since 2013.

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