Sebastian Vettel says he hasn’t given up hope on the 2018 Formula 1 world championship despite looking at an unfavourable title picture following the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver conceded further ground to world title rival Lewis Hamilton at Suzuka with the Mercedes driver storming to victory while he suffered a series of issues to finish down in sixth place. After Ferrari’s qualifying blunder with tyre strategy the intermittent rain seeing him down in ninth place, Vettel tangled with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on Lap 8 which sent him into a spin to drop down to 19th.

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Despite recovering back up to sixth place, Vettel now faces a 67-point deficit with a maximum of 100 points left to score.

Hamilton can wrap up the 2018 crown if he wins the United States Grand Prix and Vettel fails to finish second at Circuit of the Americas, but the Ferrari driver isn’t planning on giving up on his title fight until mathematically certain.

“There’s still a chance. The last couple races we made it a bit too easy for them but also credit for them they executed well,” Vettel said. “It’s the name of the game but we need to look after ourselves, do our best in the next couple of races, and then we’ll see. But surely it didn’t help when we finish sixth and they win the race.”

Vettel also accepts Ferrari’s overall performances have failed to challenge Mercedes in recent races which has played a telling role in the F1 world title swing to Hamilton.

“I think it’s been always very close but we were not as strong,” he said. “I think the fact that we were better in the race is also due to the fact they didn’t have to push.

“So you will never get the full picture. We’ll see where we are in a couple of weeks’ time moving forward.”

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