F1: Vettel grid penalty boosts Lewis Hamilton's fifth title bid

F1: Vettel grid penalty boosts Lewis Hamilton's fifth title bid

"It's going to be wet tomorrow I think and potentially on Saturday, so it's going to be a tricky weekend and nothing is given".

"It's quite a harsh penalty", said Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.

Given that Mercedes have a faster auto than Ferrari on wet surfaces, an unexpected improvement in the weather on Saturday was at least a welcome and much-needed piece of good news for Vettel.

Vettel will start from fifth due to a penalty for speeding under red flags on Friday, with Raikkonen promoted to the front row.

Vettel was in the middle of a lap when the red flag was posted and was penalised for not slowing down quickly enough.

It means that Vettel, who was only 10th fastest in the second session, can not start Sunday's race any higher than fourth on the grid.

But Vettel was adamant that he slowed sufficiently and reckons the wet conditions in the session means the regulations require a re-think. From the inside of the vehicle, I slowed down enough.

"But, in my opinion, that is not the right thing".

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"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".

Lewis Hamilton may be on the brink of beating Sebastian Vettel to this year's Formula One title, but insists he is still expecting a Ferrari fightback in the remaining four races. Any result that leaves Vettel eight or more points behind his rival and Hamilton will win the title.

Hamilton has won six of the past seven races and is chasing his fifth successive victory on Sunday.

A series of mistakes by the German midway through the season saw Hamilton take the lead in the championship and Mercedes' recent performance gains have helped Hamilton move out of reach.

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 was third just ahead of Valtteri Bottas, although behind Ferrari by such a small margin that the positions are perhaps a little insignificant.

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

More rain is forecast for final practice and qualifying.

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