He delayed Lewis Hamilton’s coronation in Austin but Sebastian Vettel’s demeanor at the end of the US Grand Prix was that of a hopeless competitor.

The Scuderia driver launched his race with the bit between his teeth, aware of the monumental task that lay ahead, but a wheel-to-wheel scrap with Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap resulted in a contact between the Red Bull and the Ferrari, and a spin for the German similar to the costly incident with Hamilton that set him back dearly at Monza last month.

Forced back to a lowly 15th, Vettel recovered and charged back through the field, putting himself back into contention for a spot among the top 5 within ten laps.

    Raikkonen takes victory in Austin as title stays alive

It was a brilliant effort, but still one that left Vettel thoroughly disappointed although he did admit to rejoice in the win of team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

“Mixed emotions. Really happy for Kimi, not happy with my race,” Vettel said off the bat before addressing his skirmish with Ricciardo.

“I think I must have been in his blind spot. I am not sure he saw me so we were side by side but obviously the corner keeps tightening and I couldn’t really get out of it anymore so we made contact.

“He had the next corner then anyway but obviously it was a big loss for me to come back from.

“It’s obviously a shame. It was a big loss for me to come back. But I’m happy for Kimi, really.”

Expressing his frustration, Vettel admitted that he “was getting tired of recovery drives” before praising once again Raikkonen’s return to the top step of the podium.

“Happy for the team, happy for Kimi, he deserves to win more than anyone in the grid,” he insisted.

“Happy for him, not happy for myself, the good news is we had a good car this weekend in dry conditions so let’s see where we end up next week.

“It has been tough weeks for the team, but my tough times don’t seem to be over yet. It should have been a better day.”

To sum up Vettel’s tall order in the coming weeks, with a 70-point deficit to Hamilton, the German must win all three of the remaining races.

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