Vettel fastest in final U.S. Grand Prix practice

Mae Harvey
October 22, 2018

Vettel needs to finish within eight points of title rival Lewis Hamilton to keep his championship hopes alive for another round and a three-place penalty would create another obstacle for the Ferrari driver, who has struggled to match Hamilton for pace at the last four rounds. Romain Grosjean was eliminated early in the race and that helped Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz to a sixth and seventh - Kevin Magnussen, in the other Haas, scored just two points in ninth.

The rampant Briton did precisely that as he delivered fastest lap after fastest lap to reel in both the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. We are close and I felt good with the vehicle. Kimi managed to lead most of the race.

"I thought we would be able to do better but this was the best we could do".

The German struggled through a hard day of slithering in the rain and then picked up a potentially fatal grid penalty for speeding under red flags during the morning session.

As it is, he has extended his lead atop the standings but is not world champion. Yet.

"Before, if there's a crash and a red flag you just slow down a lot in the place you had the crash and then after that you drive carefully, and it's not like you need to respect a certain time".

"It is the first time we have had this ruling in the wet and you literally have to stop 30 or 40 kilometres per hour which I should do next time".

He roared past Ricciardo on the back straight, only to go too deep on his brakes, and lose the position.

On their first Q3 runs, Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel all broke the lap record, the Englishman quickest in 1:32.567, enough to put him 0.088 seconds clear of the resurgent, if penalised, Vettel.

Raikkonen kept Hamilton at bay until an early virtual safety vehicle led to Ferrari and Mercedes adopting different strategies.

At first, it looked as though it may have been an inspired decision, but it backfired when Hamilton's rubber ran out of life and he had to stop again.

Raikkonen, who turned 39 last Wednesday, becomes the sport's eldest victor since Nigel Mansell in 1994.

"A big congratulations to Kimi, he did a great job with no mistakes", he said.

Vettel will have his work cut out on Sunday at a racetrack where Hamilton has won five times in the last six years. "It was a good battle and that's what we all want, the drivers, and the people here".

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