Vettel blames Verstappen for Suzuka collision

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Sebastian Vettel flatly dismissed the notion that he could leave Ferrari after a disappointing Japanese Grand Prix for the Scuderia left Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on the brink of title glory.

It was an impressive day for Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo who started 15th but finished fourth ahead of Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The German led the championship by eight points back in July but Hamilton has won six of the seven races since and turned that deficit into a 67-point lead.

"I'm not the one who makes the rules but I think it's a similar scenario to what I had in China with him", said Verstappen. For the brilliance of Hamilton across the year and the increasingly frequent mistakes made by Vettel, the tactical brains outside of the cars have a few times changed the shape of the race.

He could do that again this year if he leaves the Lone Star State with a 75-point lead, which would be an unassailable amount for Vettel to overcome in the remaining three races.

Vettel came from too far back, and clumsily thudded into the side of Verstappen as sparks flew and the Ferrari auto spun around.

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But the Ferrari driver attempted to pass Max Verstappen on the ninth lap and the two cars collided with the Ferrari spinning off into the runoff.

"In terms of Sebastian's performance, of course, I didn't expect him to fade away", Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton hoped this year's title fight would go down to the final race of the season after relishing his head-to-head battle with Sebastian Vettel in 2018.

When asked whether Vettel deserved a penalty for the move, Verstappen compared it to his ill-fated move on the German in the closing stages of April's Chinese GP - which spun both cars around and yielded a 10-second penalty for the Red Bull driver.

The Dutchman incurred a five-second time penalty for nudging Kimi Raikkonen off the track at the chicane, turning the air blue on team radio when informed of the punishment.

"For me, the gap was there - otherwise I wouldn't do it", Vettel added.

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"I had some blistering in the rears, anyway the job was for me to get to the finish line in P2." .

The pace advantage of the Ferrari meant he easily climbed back up to sixth by half-distance but that was as far as he could get - and Ferrari declined to order Raikkonen in fifth to slow to let his team-mate by, to gain a couple of extra points.

"I think we have a lot of potential".

He insisted after the race that stewards had been "stupid" to penalise him - and had nothing but disdain for Vettel's rush of blood, sniffing: "He drove into the side of my auto, he could have been a bit more careful". I don't regret the move, obviously with that outcome you would do it differently because with hindsight it's always easy. "But the gap was there - I had more speed, I would have made the corner". In that case I couldn't go anywhere. "I am just grateful to have delivered".

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the podium had been within the team's grasp.

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