Sebastian Vettel on Saturday acknowledged the “mutual respect” in his world championship fight with Lewis Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s potential title showdown.
The four-time champion German said his relationship with the defending champion had always been respectful, despite their lifestyle differences.
“I think the respect between us has always been there despite the fact that maybe we are very different.
“We appreciate the job that the other guy is doing. I think it’s a mutual respect that we have for each other. I think very respectful.”
Ferrari driver Vettel needs to prevent Hamilton out-scoring him by eight points in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix if he is to keep his title challenge alive.
But he will start the race with a three-place grid penalty following a controversial stewards’ ruling for speeding under red flags in opening practice.
The stewards’ decision, made in wet conditions, had reduced Vettel’s slim title chances according to Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and means that he cannot start on the front row of the grid for a race in which he knows another Mercedes one-two will give Hamilton his fifth drivers’ title.
Vettel was penalised for failing to slow down sufficiently after Charles Leclerc’s Sauber had left gravel on the track after a spin.
Rival drivers felt the three-place punishment was too strong.
“It’s quite a harsh penalty,” said Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso. “If you’ve been really careful… It’s a shame, especially looking at the situation, still fighting for the championship. And now he gets a penalty, it’s not so exciting.”
Lewis Hamilton is on the brink of being crowned Formula One world champion for a fifth time.
The 33-year-old British driver heads to Austin, Texas for this week’s United States Grand Prix with a 67-point title lead over Sebastian Vettel.
Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of Sunday’s race.
Hamilton ready to make history
Lewis Hamilton needs to outscore Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel by eight points on Sunday to secure the championship with three rounds remaining.
There are a variety of permutations for Hamilton to get his fourth title in five years over the line, but the clearest one is this; if he wins then Vettel must finish as runner-up to ensure the title fight goes on to Mexico.
Hamilton has been in the form of his life in recent months, winning six of the last seven races, which includes a run of four on the spin, and he will arrive in Austin, Texas undefeated on American soil since 2013.
The British driver flew from England to America, his 106th flight of the year, at the back end of last week before appearances in New York on Monday evening with TV presenter Gayle King, and then on ABC’s Good Morning America in Times Square on Tuesday.
It is a matter of when, and not if Hamilton joins Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio on five world triumphs and given his recent form, his record across the pond, and Ferrari’s poor run, there is every chance his coronation will take place on Sunday evening.
Ferrari vow to complete Mission Impossible
Despite boasting the best machinery for much of the campaign, errors by driver and team leave Ferrari trailing Mercedes in both championships.
Vettel has triumphed at just one of the last seven grands prix and lost 77 points to his title rival since July’s British Grand Prix.
Ferrari team principal, Maurizio Arrivabene, will no doubt face question marks over his future as to whether the former marketing executive actually has the credentials to lead the sport’s grandest team, but for now at least, he is refusing to give up.
“I know that the situation looks impossible, but our job sometimes is to challenge the impossible,” he told Sky Italia. “This is what we are going to try to do, and we win and we lose together.”
Cold front set to wreak weather chaos
The Formula One circus is poised to park up at an unseasonably chilly Austin after a recent cold snap from Canada led to record-breaking temperature lows.
Indeed, the mercury plunged to just seven degrees Celsius on Monday to match a 104-year record for the coldest October 15 ever in Austin.
Heavy thunderstorms have led to power shortages in the area, and forecasters predict that the bad weather will remain for the week ahead.
It will not be the first time the grand prix, which has been on the calendar since 2012, has been affected by inclement conditions.
Three years ago, second practice was cancelled. Qualifying was then pushed back to Sunday morning. Despite the poor weather, Hamilton prevailed to win ahead of Nico Rosberg and clinch the title. An omen, perhaps?
Boy George makes it a hat-trick of Britons on the grid
The future of British motor racing has been handed another boost after George Russell, the 20-year-old Englishman, was confirmed as a 2019 driver for Williams.
Russell, who is set to follow in the footsteps of Hamilton, Rosberg, and the Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc, by winning the Formula Two championship this year, will be the third British driver on the grid next term.
While Hamilton, 33, may be in the latter stages of his record-breaking career, Russell and Lando Norris, the highly-rated 18-year-old who will drive for McLaren next season, are set to ensure the future of the sport in this country remains in good hands.
Wolff hails Schumacher Jnr after F3 triumph
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, has claimed that Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, has the skillset to become one of the sport’s greats after he clinched the Formula Three title last weekend.
The 2019 F1 season is likely to come too soon for 19-year-old Mick, with a campaign in F2 his probable destination for next year. But his impressive performances in F3, wrapping up the title with a round to spare, stand him in good stead to complete a remarkable fairytale and follow in the footsteps of his father.
Schumacher’s condition is known only to his inner circle after he suffered terrible head injuries following a skiing accident almost five years ago.
With his Formula One career set to come to an end in Abu Dhabi next month, Fernando Alonso admits he’s starting to get a little emotional.
The 37-year-old confirmed in August that he would retire from Formula One after 17 years in the sport, having spent his final four seasons at a depleted McLaren side.
Although he is yet to give any indication as to where he will race next year, it is likely that Toyota will retain him for another World Endurance Championship campaign, with McLaren’s imminent move into IndyCar providing another fresh option for his future in motorsport.
And with just four races left this season, the two-time world champion says it has finally started to sink in that he will be leaving Formula One after nearly two decades.
“I’ve found myself recording the parade laps in the last couple of races with my phone,” Alonso told CNN.
“I’ve never done that in my life, but now it’s like I want to record everything.
“I want to have that last memory of each race.
“From August, when I decided to announce the retirement, every single race has been a little more emotional than normal.
“Every driver’s parade, every fan session has been a little bit different… it gets even more difficult.”
Alonso’s focus is firmly set on completing motorsport’s “Triple Crown” – victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and the Indy 500.
The Spaniard won at Monaco in both 2006 and 2007, while he was part of Toyota’s victorious team at Le Mans in June. An attempt to win the 2017 Indy 500 finished with 21 of the 200 laps remaining due to engine failure, but he looks set to give it another shot in 2019.
“I achieved much more than what I dreamed of when I started,” he added. “I think it’s the right time now because there are some other challenges out of Formula One that I’m very, very interested in now.
“My idea is to win all the iconic motor sport races in the world.”