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Vettel holds on to title hopes but penalty in Japan possible

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Sebastian Vettel still believes in his title chances despite conceding six more points to Lewis Hamilton and the prospect of starting the Japanese GP on the back foot next Sunday.

Vettel charged through the field in a spirited drive to salvage a fourth-place finish for himself and Ferrari after yesterday's qualifying drama which had sent him to the back of the grid.

The German drivers' post-race collision with Williams' Lance Stroll may have caused irreparable damage to the Ferrari's gearbox however.

The component's likely replacement and the subsequent penalty would demote Vettel five spots on next Sunday's grid at Suzuka.

"I am still optimistic, because we know that we have a quick car," said VetteL

"Of course it was a shame for Kimi who couldn’t take the start, and for me having to begin my race from the back of the grid.

"We tried to fight for the podium, pushed very hard, but in the end the tires were starting to give up and we couldn’t be really there.

"However, it is promising to see the car is good, even if both Kimi and I hit trouble this weekend. I don’t know yet if the issue is the same on both cars, we’ll need to have a look.

"For sure it’s not ideal having one car out yesterday and another one today. So, there’s something we need to understand.

"It’s been a difficult weekend, but nevertheless the speed is there.

"So far we’ve had a pretty good record for this year regarding reliability. I am not that worried to be honest, but we need to get on top of the problem."

Ferrari have not yet determined if Vettel's car will require a gearbox change, but the chances are high.

"We’ll check that now, but yeah, for sure, that could be another bad surprise this weekend," lamented the German.

"I hope not because as I said the incident with Stroll was completely unnecessary."

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