Oct.23 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of wrapping up the title with three full race weekends to spare received an unexpected boost in Austin.
Ferrari sources had earlier reported that the Maranello team had decided to postpone for now the introduction of a new engine specification, making use of the team’s final four ‘tokens’ for the year.
However, news then emerged on Thursday that Sebastian Vettel’s outside shot at the 2015 championship will be dented by a 10-place grid penalty, to also be served by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
The pair are dropping back because fifth engines for the season are being fitted in Austin.
“This has always been the plan and has never been a big secret to us,” said Vettel.
It is believed, however, that the new engines are simply ‘fresh’ Monza-spec units, not the four-token specification that is still being bench-tested at Maranello.
Vettel said: “Our policy is to always try to have the strongest engine at every event. The decision we are taking for the weekend here should be looked at on the positive side, because we keep pushing hard for performance and so far this has worked very well.
“Paying the penalty may not be fantastic news if you look at this weekend in isolation of course, but if you look at the whole picture, the advantage of a fresh power unit becomes clear,” he added.
So even if tokens have not actually been spent, Ferrari defended its decision on the basis that it is the best path in order to be more competitive in 2016, when Mercedes’ Hamilton – who needs Vettel to finish off the podium on Sunday – expects the German to mount a full title challenge.
“I hope he’s right!” Vettel is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint.