Sebastian Vettel believes he had the pace to win the United States Grand Prix had he not been involved in an opening-lap collision with Daniel Ricciardo.
Starting from fifth, Vettel attacked Ricciardo for fourth into Turn 12 and got ahead of the Red Bull but ran deep, allowing Ricciardo to get back ahead on the exit of the corner. Vettel held the inside line into Turn 13 but touched wheels with Ricciardo as he tried to hold a tighter line, spinning and dropping back to 14th place. He was only able to recover to fourth as teammate Kimi Raikkonen won.
“[Ricciardo] tried to come back and then we think we both just about managed to get the corner,” Vettel said. “Initially I had a bad exit out of 12 but then I came back. I had the inside, I think he didn’t see me so we went side by side. Then it was quite clear, he tried to go around the outside and we touched pretty much wheels on. After the touch, I lost the car and spun.
“Once we were heading into T13, I think for him it was difficult to see. I haven’t spoken with him yet, but I heard he didn’t really see and didn’t really know where I was. It was unfortunate, fits our scheme to spin.
“After that, we had a good speed, good recovery. Most important message is that the car was quick today, really happy for Kimi. Not happy with my result, but overall, lots of understanding for us to do lots of homework on a technical side.
“I didn’t try to lose the race in that corner. If we had stayed fourth or fifth after the first lap, we would have been a lot closer, I don’t know if everybody is doing the same things but I’m sure we had the speed to win.”
With Lewis Hamilton only finishing third, the drivers’ title was not decided in Austin, but Hamilton only needs to finish in the top seven in Mexico to secure the championship next weekend.
“[The hopes are] getting slimmer,” Vettel conceded. “But we will try to head to Mexico and get the best out of our car. Maybe there are some elements we can improve.”