Sebastian Vettel 'still believes' in F1 world championship chance
Vettel falls 50 points behind Hamilton in the title race
Last Updated: 04/12/18 5:34pm
Sebastian Vettel is adamant his dream of beating Lewis Hamilton to a fifth world championship is still alive despite falling 50 points behind his Mercedes rival.
Hamilton's victory at the Russian GP, coupled with Vettel's third place, means the Englishman's advantage is the equivalent of two full race victories with just five events remaining.
Drivers' Championship - top five
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||306|
|2) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||256|
|3) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||189|
|3) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||186|
|5) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||158|
But Vettel insists the battle is not over.
"I still believe in our chances," said Vettel. "Obviously it's not getting bigger, as I said, if you finish behind but who knows, it takes one DNF and then all of a sudden things look different - ideally two! - which I'm not wishing on Lewis but you never know what happens.
"We need to stay on top of our game, which maybe we haven't been completely this weekend: make sure that from where we are now we focus on winning the last races."
Hamilton's victory was his third in succession and a fifth in the last six races.
Hamilton's latest triumph occurred after he was let through by team-mate Valtteri Bottas. "I don't think I've ever finished first and feel the way I do right now," Hamilton admitted afterwards. But Vettel said he was mystified by the controversy.
"Obviously I know that you guys love controversy and therefore ask some naughty questions to them as individuals but I think in the position they were in it was a no-brainer what they did today," the Ferrari driver told reporters. "So maybe not all the questions are justified."
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Ferrari have generally held a pace advantage over Mercedes this term. But in Sochi the Silver Arrows were in a league of their own and Vettel was beaten by over half a second in qualifying.
"The Sochi weekend was rather a difficult one for us," acknowledged team boss Maurizio Arrivabene. "Despite all our efforts to find the ideal set-up, neither on Saturday nor in the race were we competitive enough to worry our closest rivals. Compared to the way we performed at other circuits, something was missing here and so we were unable to reduce the points gap.
"On paper, the next race in Japan should have very similar characteristics to the one at Silverstone, so in Suzuka, we will get a more precise indication as to the potential of our car. If it goes well, we will know that, despite the difficult situation in terms of the classification, we still have the right tools with which to fight all the way to the very end."
F1's post-summer break schedule
|United States||October 21|
|Abu Dhabi||November 25|