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Vettel’s title hopes hit by US engine penalty

22 Oct 2015

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will receive a ten-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Grand Prix in the United States, hampering his chances of remaining in the 2015 title race with Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.

It follows Ferrari’s planned decision to introduce fresh engines in Austin as part of their 2016 preparations. With both Vettel and team mate Kimi Raikkonen having already used their four permitted units this season, both men will be penalised for the change.

"We will have the hit of 10 places penalty for a new engine here, but it has always been the plan," Vettel confirmed to reporters in Austin. “It's not a big secret, no surprise for us. The story is that this was always the plan for us to have the strongest engine available at every single point of the season.

"Our engine guys have done a massive job, so this should not be understood as a downside. If anything, this is very positive."

Vettel trails Hamilton by 66 points in the standings with four rounds remaining. It means that should Hamilton win on Sunday, Vettel must finish second to keep the championship alive - a tough ask if he can start no higher than 11th on the grid.

"If you look at just this race in isolation, it's not great news,” Vettel conceded, “but you have to look at the whole project, the whole season. The priority was always to have maximum power at every single race, and that’s worked well for us so far.

"Obviously we have to take the hit here but we should take the positive which is that we were able to make big steps, rather than just think of the penalty."

As well as Vettel and Raikkonen, Marussia's Will Stevens will receive grid penalties of 20 places for unscheduled engine, turbocharger and MGU-H changes.