Vettel defends Ferrari as tyre gamble falls flat

Q1 top 10

Asked whether he might think twice in future when alongside Verstappen in future, Vettel bridled at the suggestion. A trouble-free race, and he even sounded fairly relaxed rather than his usual keyed-up self, managing a joke with his team over the radio as he enquired whether his race engineer had gone on a break and forgotten to give him any updates from elsewhere on the track.

Vettel, eighth on the grid after a combination of driver and team errors in Saturday's dry-wet qualifying, executed an impressive opening lap to climb four places.

He could do that again this year if he leaves the Lone Star State with a 75-point lead, which would be an unassailable amount for Vettel to overcome in the remaining three races.

"I didn't expect it", he said. "I gave Sebastian space, but he under-steered into my vehicle".

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who started 15th after an engine failure in qualifying, finished fourth for Red Bull and ahead of Raikkonen after making the jump during the pitstops.

A rampant Hamilton has scored 168 out of a possible 175 points since the British Grand Prix in July - a 75-point swing over a misfiring Vettel in the past seven races.

He was then fourth after Verstappen ran off the road at the chicane, and in rejoining the track, bumped Raikkonen on to the grass.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas secured the Mercedes one-two with second place while Verstappen finished third despite collecting a five-second penalty.

For Hamilton and Bottas enjoyed an nearly serene run from the front row to the flag, although Bottas was pressured by Verstappen at the death.

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"In terms of Sebastian's performance, I definitely hadn't anticipated that they would tail off as they have", he said, after Vettel's fading title hopes were all but extinguished.

When the safety vehicle went back to the pits, Vettel attacked Verstappen for third but ended up carrying too much speed and made light contact with the Red Bull.

"But it doesn't help when we finish sixth and they win the race".

The incident was investigated by the stewards, with no further action taken, but Verstappen felt it was clear Vettel had been at fault.

But the Ferrari driver attempted to pass Max Verstappen on the ninth lap and the two cars collided with the Ferrari spinning off into the runoff.

"Then the gap was there, as soon as he realised somebody is close or next to him, in my opinion, he push".

Hamilton will fancy his chances of doing just that given his record at the U.S. Grand Prix, where he has won every race but one since 2012. Vettel appeared to want to avoid letting Mercedes open up too much of a gap in front, which he had to do given his deficit in the championship fight. It's not always right the other guy has to move.

Mexican Sergio Perez took best of the rest honors for Force India in seventh, while Romain Grosjean was eighth for Haas.

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