Sebastian Vettel admits his strategy probably didn't pay off in the United States Grand Prix, but adds that fourth place was probably the maximum anyway.

Vettel was disappointed on Saturday after only qualifying sixth - and said his Ferrari was "just not quick enough" - however he made up two places in the race, benefitting from Max Verstappen's difficulties and those of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom failed to finish.

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"We always have a plan," Vettel said post-race, "and I know we have a plan. But it is very likely it always turns out to be a bit different, so you need to react on the fly according to how the tyres feel and what the other people are doing.

"Obviously Kimi pitted very early, which meant his middle stint would be a bit longer. I pitted therefore a bit late, because all the people in front pitted and I can't really put them under pressure by coming out behind. So we decided to do something else.

"I think it did work, but it didn't exactly pay off because the race then at the end was a bit different. But I think P4 was anyway the maximum we could get today."

Vettel also added that he felt his car was more competitive in race trim than it had been in qualifying, with a late final stop and a switch to the supersofts allowing him to bag the fastest lap.

"I think overall the car was better today than yesterday. The speed was better and I think we were a match for the Red Bulls for the majority of the race, although some laps they were still a bit quicker.

"But overall [as I said] I think it was a decent day. Just a shame we couldn't get both cars to the finish."

United States Grand Prix - Race results

Meanwhile, Vettel played down the fact he was delayed a bit by Raikkonen shortly before the second stops.

"No," he replied, when asked if the team should have instructed the Finn to move out of the way.

"I think he was suffering with his tyres. Obviously all that group came in very early. We decided to stay out and had fresher tyres. At that point I think I was lapping around eight tenths faster, just because of the tyres. Obviously it was very close when he pitted, within a lap or two I could have passed him anyway," the four-time F1 World Champion concluded.

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