Austin: Sebastian Vettel said he felt mixed emotions after keeping his slender title challenge alive by finishing fourth in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, won by Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
The four-time champion, who started fifth on the grid after taking a three-place penalty, recovered from an opening lap spin to fight through the field in a tactical contest that left Lewis Hamilton frustrated in his bid to clinch his fifth drivers world title.
“My feelings? Mixed,” he said. “Happy. Really happy for Kimi. But not much for me. It should have been a better day.”
Vettel can only stop Hamilton taking his fifth drivers title next weekend in Mexico by winning the race and hoping Hamilton hits problems that keep him out of the top seven places.
He said he suffered a major blow when he clashed with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.
“I must have been in his blind spot. I’m not sure he saw me. The corner kept tightening and we hit. It was a big loss for me.”
Vettel’s disappointment took nothing away from a resurgent Ferrari’s satisfaction in recovering their mid-season pace, after abandoning several recent upgrades, and claiming a revitalising victory.
“I am very proud of them all,” said Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene.
“I was always proud of the guys and even more when we are winning races. It’s been hard for us recently and we had a race engineer pass away last weekend. I have nothing more to add. It was great today. Thank you USA!”
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff admitted that Ferrari had been faster than his team, as he had feared.
“We lacked the pace and I said don’t close it too early. They are very fast. Kimi winning is great for him and for Ferrari, so let’s go to the next race in Mexico now.
“It was difficult to overtake, but for us it was a strategy that got worse as it progressed. We need to rethink and see what we can do better. We put on a good show altogether and that’s what’s more important.”
Daniel Ricciardo was so angry he punched a hole in a wall after a power failure forced him to retire from the race, according to his Red Bull team chief Christian Horner.
While his teammate Max Verstappen stormed from 18th on the grid to finish second with a dazzling drive, Australian Ricciardo was left frustrated again in a season that has seen him suffer a loss of form.
“It’s a crying shame for Daniel, I feel so sorry for him,” Horner said.
“It was an identical issue to that which he had in Bahrain where it was a complete shut down.”
Ricciardo, who leaves Red Bull for Renault next season, was battling for a possible podium finish when he was forced into retirement.
“He’s just taken his frustration out on his room by putting his fist through the wall, which you can totally relate to,” added Horner.
“He doesn’t blame the team in any way. He knows we’re doing everything we can, it’s just one of those things.”
1. Lewis Hamilton, 346
2. Sebastian Vettel, 276
3. Kimi Raikkonen, 221
4. Valtteri Bottas, 217
5. Max Verstappen, 191
6. Daniel Ricciardo, 146
7. Nico Hulkenberg, 61
8. Kevin Magnussen, 55
9. Sergio Perez, 54
10. Esteban Ocon, 53
11. Fernando Alonso, 50
12. Carlos Sainz, 45
13. Romain Grosjean, 31
14. Pierre Gasly, 28
15. Charles Leclerc, 21
16. Stoffel Vandoorne, 8
17. Lance Stroll, 6
18. Marcus Ericsson, 6
19. Brendon Hartley, 2
20. Sergey Sirotkin, 1
1. Mercedes, 563
2. Ferrari, 497
3. Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer, 337
4. Renault, 106
5. Haas Ferrari, 86
6. McLaren Renault, 58
7. Force India Mercedes, 48
8. Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, 30
9. Sauber Ferrari, 27
10. Williams Mercedes, 7