Vettel acknowledges ‘mutual respect’ in Hamilton rivalry

Vettel acknowledges ‘mutual respect’ in Hamilton rivalry

Vettel acknowledges ‘mutual respect’ in Hamilton rivalry

It wasn't enough to secure a fifth Formula One title which he can claim at the Mexico Grand Prix next week.

On their final runs, Raikkonen improved again, to go top, but Hamilton exceeded that effort again with another faster lap to take pole for the third consecutive season. By Lap 35 the damage looked severe, and what was once an nearly 18-second advantage was whittled down to just eight seconds.

Lewis Hamilton may be trailing Michael Schumacher in terms of outright wins and titles, but the Brit is "miles above" the great German as an F1 world champion according to Jacques Villeneuve.

Hamilton needs to beat fellow-four-time champion Vettel by eight points to clinch his fifth drivers championship.

But Hamilton's third-place finish, the first time he hasn't won the U.S. Grand Prix since 2013, and Vettel's fourth, pushed the championship back another week to Mexico City.

Schumacher won seven, two at Benetton and the rest with Ferrari, and retired with a record 91 wins.

Mexico next weekend. Not a year ago a circuit where Mercedes excelled, Hamilton needs to score five more points than Vettel to be champion.

Hamilton refused to get into predictions about Sunday's outcome.

"Today has been surprisingly close, I don't think we expected it to be that close", commented Vettel, who vented his frustration over the team radio after crossing the line.

A similar incident occurred at the last round in Japan when Esteban Ocon was given a three-place grid penalty for the same infringement.

"I can't change that now".

Hamilton, he said, was completely different.

Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc also tangled, with the former retiring from the race and the latter making it to lap 33 before ending his afternoon in the garage. He at least knows his vehicle has the muscle to compete with Mercedes again.

Although video footage showed the Ferrari driver had backed off considerably through the esses approaching that part of the track, the stewards deemed he was still travelling too quickly.

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari qualified at second position with a time of 1:32.298 minutes while his team mate Kimi Raikkonen took the third position with a time of 1:32.307 minutes. Getting around that group and still keeping Hamilton close will be hard.

"There's very little negativity", said the 47-year-old, referencing Hamilton's career.

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