Sebastian Vettel backed by rivals over 'harsh' US GP grid penalty

Sebastian Vettel backed by rivals over 'harsh' US GP grid penalty

Sebastian Vettel backed by rivals over 'harsh' US GP grid penalty

All drivers are expected to slow down and drive back to the pits when red flags are waved.

Ferrari may have set the pace when teams headed out in the dry for the first time in FP3, but Mercedes upped their game in the first segment of qualifying with Hamilton powering to the top of the timesheets, almost four-tenths of a second clear of team mate Bottas.

Hamilton will be world champion if he outscores Vettel by eight points or more on Sunday, meaning the German must climb through the field to finish second if the defending champion wins from pole.

This historic achievement not only comes down to the masterful ability of Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel, but the Mercedes engineers, mechanics and executives who have built by far the most reliable, fast and competitive auto Formula 1 has ever seen.

The world championship leader, who can clinch his fifth title in Sunday's United States Grand Prix, was delighted to hear from his Mercedes team's non-executive chairman who has been recovering after a lung transplant.

Vettel had to be penalised "to be consistent with previous decisions", the stewards said.

Hamilton has a 67-point lead and will be champion for the fourth time in five years if he scores eight points more than Vettel, who can not now start higher than fourth.

As a reminder, Force India's Esteban Ocon was hit with a three-spot grid penalty for a similar offence in Japan twi weeks ago, during Saturday's FP3 session.

Hamilton was the driver in front, heading Vettel with Bottas a fraction further back in third and Raikkonen a distant fourth.

"I think in wet conditions, when a red flag comes out, it's also potentially risky to slam on the brakes", said Hartley. They found it took too long and I think it's pretty straightforward.

At a time when Fangio was dominant on the racetrack, Hamilton's paternal grandfather Davidson was working for the London underground transport system having newly-arrived from Grenada.

"It's quite a harsh penalty", said Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso. I'm definitely not thinking how I will feel here if I do the job, because I have got to do the job and that just adds more pressure and you don't need more pressure. "Lining out 27.7 seconds precisely, as not complying with the rules, I think is wrong".

"I'm not sure it's the right thing to do if there's someone right behind you, but it's more important you don't get the penalty".

"I think the respect between us has always been there despite the fact that maybe we are very different".

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