Vettel engine penalty boosts Hamilton's title hopes

Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:05pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton's hopes of winning his third Formula One world championship at the U.S. Grand Prix were boosted on Thursday when closest rival Sebastian Vettel said he would have a 10 place penalty on the starting grid.

Vettel's Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen will take a similar penalty, which will further reduce the team's chances of beating Hamilton's Mercedes unless the weather, which is expected to be wet, intervenes.

"We will have the hit of a 10 places penalty for a new engine at this event but it has always been the plan, it’s not a big secret," Vettel told reporters at the Circuit of the Americas.

"Obviously if you look at just this race in isolation, for sure it's not great news but then you have to look at the whole project, the whole season and it was always the plan to have a fresh engine until the end of the season (from) here," added the German.

Britain's Hamilton, who has won nine of the 15 races so far, leads Vettel by 66 points in the standings with four races remaining.

His Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg is 73 points adrift, which means Hamilton needs to score nine points more than Vettel and two more than Rosberg to be sure of his second successive crown.

A Mercedes one-two, with Hamilton winning, would do that but Rosberg said the Briton would still face a battle with him in Sunday's race.

"There is nothing to lose. I want to win and I have the opportunity to win," said the German.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - United States Grand Prix 2015 - Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America - 22/10/15
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton ahead of the United States Grand Prix
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei