Sebastian Vettel thinks his recent “weird” spins could have been caused by a downforce disruption while in wheel-to-wheel combat with his Formula 1 rivals.

A series of high-profile errors throughout the second half of the season have left the Ferrari driver’s championship hopes in tatters, while chief rival Lewis Hamilton has the chance to seal a fifth drivers’ world title at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Driver Ratings - United States GP

Vettel tangled with Hamilton on the opening lap in Italy and suffered further spins in the last two events in Japan and the United States after clashing with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

In all three incidents, the German was spun around despite being on the inside line.

“Maybe I need to try the outside next time, maybe I don’t spin,” Vettel replied when asked for his explanation for his recent incidents.

“Obviously you want to have the inside to the corner, that doesn’t change. But I don’t know. The closer you are to another car you lose some downforce, obviously the spins I had were all quite weird because there was not much I could have done.

“It is not like I had gone in too fast or would have spun on own at that speed, not at all, so I guess there must be some sort of hole or something being on the inside of a car in that position.

“On all three occasions I wasn’t clearly ahead, at best side-by-side, so as I said, maybe next time I try the outside.”

Vettel said he can take solace from the fact he knows he did not try anything “stupid or silly”, though he admits he is keen to avoid further repeats of his recent incidents in the final three rounds of the season.

“The main thing is that fundamentally I didn’t try to do anything silly or stupid, I wasn’t hard-headed trying to do something that would never work,” he explained.

“Obviously now it has happened a couple of times, too much, so next time there will be a gap, I am sure I will go for a gap, but surely it is in the back of your head trying to keep the car facing the right direction.”