Sports

F1: Sebastian Vettel penalty boosts Lewis Hamilton title hopes

F1: Sebastian Vettel penalty boosts Lewis Hamilton title hopes

Mercedes superstar Lewis Hamilton sits on the brink of a fifth Formula 1 world title, a milestone previously reached by only two other drivers in the sport's history - Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.

The new design has helped Mercedes with a long-running problem of cooling their tyres and, after the FIA investigated the respective wheel hubs extensively, they are happy that Mercedes are not in breach of any regulations. Similar penalties were applied to Force India's Esteban Ocon and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo earlier this season.

Video footage of the incident showed Vettel slowing as soon as the flags came out, but he was called to the stewards at the end of the session, accused of not taking off enough speed to meet the strict timing deltas the drivers must adhere to.

Hamilton comes into the race on the back of four straight victories, dominating fellow four-time champion Vettel in recent weeks.

Vettel met with the stewards before the penalty was assessed and was allowed to explain what he thought happened.

"I think there should be common sense with the rules that we have, " Vettel added.

"The weather was miserable this morning; it looked like it was going to dry up going into FP2 but then all of a sudden the heavens opened again".

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"In my opinion, it's not the right thing if there's a auto right behind you".

Vettel is well aware that he needs to finish second at the United States Grand Prix if Lewis Hamilton wins this weekend to keep his championship hopes alive.

"In my opinion it's not the right thing because if there's a auto behind you, it might run into you, but more important that you don't get a penalty".

There are a number of permutations as to how the Mercedes star can get his championship over the line, but the simplest is this; if he wins here in Austin, Texas and Vettel is third, the glory is his.

Hamilton has been in unstoppable form since the summer break, winning six of the last seven races, to establish a 67-point lead over a mistake-ridden Vettel with only 100 remaining.

The 33-year-old British driver has been in America since last weekend and after several media appearances in NY he touched down at an unseasonably chilly Circuit of the Americas on Thursday. Vettel ventured out with out with about 12 minutes left and Hamilton spun only a couple of laps in the final eight minutes, but couldn't run a faster time than his morning lap.

"It was a pretty boring day, just waiting for the rain to go away", said the Finn. The race begins at 7.10pm on Sunday with build-up from 5.30pm.


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