WORK CUT OUT FOR HIM: Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has been handed a 10-place grid penalty ahead of the United States GP after the Italian team introduced new engines. Image: AFP / Joe Klamar
Austin, Texas - Sebastian Vettel's hopes of delaying Lewis Hamilton's title charge at the United States Grand Prix suffered a potentially fatal blow Thursday (October 22) when his Ferrari team was handed a 10-place grid penalty for introducing new engines this weekend (October 24-25).
Both four-times champion Vettel and team mate Kimi Raikkonen will be hit with the penalties at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday.
Vettel second in drivers' championship
Ferrari will have new engines for the final four races of the season as the Italian giants strive to match rivals Mercedes for power and speed.
The team decision was affected by consideration for Vettel's world championship position.
Read: 2015 US GP: What Hamilton needs to wrap title
Vettel is in second place, 66 points adrift of Hamilton with a maximum of 100 points available in the final four races.
Ferrari posted a photograph of a wet Circuit of Americas track on their Instagram account:
Vettel needs to finish in the top two, if Hamilton wins Sunday's race, to halt him from taking the title.
Vettel admitted: "If you look at just this race isolated, it's not great news. But you have to look at the whole project, the whole season, and it was always the plan to have a fresh engine here for the rest of the year."
'Engine guys have done a massive job'
Both Vettel and Raikkonen have used their permitted allocation of four engines for the season and will be penalised for taking a fifth each.
Vettel said: "We knew this would happen and it has been always our plan to have a new engine, that takes us to the hit of a 10-places penalty.
"It's not a big secret, no surprise for us. Our engine guys have done a massive job, so this should not be understood as a downside. If anything this is very positive."
2015 United States GP: Times in SA local
Practice 1 - Friday 5pm - 6.30pm
Practice 2 - Friday 9pm - 10.30pm
Practice 3 - Saturday 5 - 6pm
Qualifying - Saturday 8pm - 9pm
Race - Sunday 9pm