Formula One News: Sebastian Vettel Grid Penalty Boosts Lewis Hamilton's Title Chances [VIDEO]
on Oct 23, 2015 05:10 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton's already considerable chances of confirming his third Formula One world championship this weekend have been boosted by news that his main rival, Sebastian Vettel, has been hit by a 10-race grid penalty for Sunday's U.S. Grand Prix, The Guardian reported.
Hamilton will successfully retain the crown if he wins in Austin, and the Ferrari driver Vettel finishes third or lower. He needs to outscore Vettel by nine points, as well as his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, by two points to become the first Brit to win back-to-back championships.
Hamilton's path to glory was made easier after it was revealed that Ferrari was penalized for introducing a fifth engine in a bid to challenge Mercedes' supremacy in the next season. Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen will be demoted 10 places on the grid.
"We will have the hit of a 10-place penalty for a new engine at this event, but it has always been the plan," said Vettel on Thursday. "It's not a big secret, no surprise for us. This was always the plan for us, to have the strongest engine available at every single point of the season. I think our engine guys have done a massive job, so this should not be understood as a downside. If anything, this is very positive."
He added: "For sure, in an isolated sense, it's not great news, but the priority was always to have maximum power at every single race. It has worked very well so far. We have to take the hit here but you have to see the positives, because we are able to make big steps."
Hamilton has won nine of the 15 races to date in what has been his most dominant season in F1. In his previous two championship seasons, in 2008 and 2014, he did not clinch the title until the last race of the year.
"I don't feel I have any added pressure," Hamilton said. "My goal is just to win the race. And whatever follows after that. But I don't care whether it is this weekend or next weekend or Abu Dhabi."