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"I can't wait to unleash this beast in Austin", he added, pointing at his vehicle.

He spun, took some damage and ended up finishing at the back of the field.

Vettel was left wondering what might have been after a ruining an electric start with an ill-advised attempt to duck inside Verstappen at turn 13.

Shocker: Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari needed to take some risks in Japan to keep their championship chances alive, but gamble after gamble failed to pay off. "I even gave him space". But Horner admitted he would like to see his driver on the podium before the end of his Red Bull career.

"It has cost Sebastian deer today. That's probably the end of his championship".

"If I don't go for that gap and that gap was there, I might as well go home".

"I had the speed".

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from 15th to fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth on a desperately torrid afternoon for Ferrari.

Vettel tried to overtake Red Bull ace Verstappen at Spoon corner in a bid to move up to third.

That puts Vettel 67 points behind Hamilton and means the Briton would win the title at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in two weeks' time if Mercedes finish one-two for the third successive race.

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"I locked up and I could easily have cut the track, [but] I made my best effort to get back on track", Verstappen argued.

"The gap was there, I had the inside".

"As soon as he realises somebody is close or next to him, he tries to - in my opinion - push when you shouldn't push anymore".

Despite starting eighth, Ferrari driver Vettel climbed to fourth and attempted to go down the inside of Verstappen, who had already been issued a five-second time penalty for returning to the track unsafely and blocking Kimi Raikkonen after overrunning a chicane, at Spoon on lap eight. "But I also felt that we were faster".

Vettel's second half of the championship has shaken up his title aspirations. Up until the mid-part of the season they were very strong and then we obviously got to Monza and then after that they were still quite strong from Monza.

"He could have been a bit more careful". But whether Vettel had an issue with his driver or he just loves the Ferrari Daytona that much, he decided half-way round to swap positions and continue his waving while behind the wheel of the 1960s auto.

"Honestly, I'll take it one step at a time", said Hamilton moments after securing his ninth win of the season. Fernando Alonso drove well to pressure faster cars in the bad McLaren. Championship challenger Sebastian Vettel crashed into him early in the race leaving Vettel stationary.

Speaking after the race, he insisted he had no regrets in terms of making the move, but blamed the Dutch driver for the outcome. "Obviously with that outcome you would do it differently".

"He has a fast vehicle but obviously just fighting against Lewis if everything runs well with us, it's going to be hard off the start".

Verstappen though was unrepentant and called his penalty "stupid".