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Sebastian Vettel inspired by 'unbroken' Ferrari spirit

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Verstappen pushes Raikkonen wide at the chicane (1:15)

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen received a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and not returning safely after he made contact with Kimi Raikkonen at the Japan Grand Prix. (1:15)

Sebastian Vettel says it has been "inspirational" to see his Ferrari's teams spirit unaffected by its dramatic capitulation in the 2018 championship fight with Mercedes.

Vettel looked like the favourite for a fifth world championship earlier this year after Ferrari appeared to have moved ahead of Mercedes in terms of car performance. However, a remarkable catalogue of mistakes and strategy blunders, coupled by a stellar run of form from Lewis Hamilton, has swung the momentum back to the reigning world champions.

Hamilton is on the verge of wrapping up the championship and could do so at the next race at Austin's Circuit of the Americas. Despite the sudden turnaround Vettel says the team is still operating with a positive mindset.

"It's about everybody," Vettel told Sky Sports. "I find it quite inspirational, you walk in the garage and the guys are all fired up. That has certainly helped.

"Obviously it's not been an easy couple of weeks but the spirit in the team, considering how tough the last weeks have been is unbroken. We know that it's difficult from where we are. What do we have to lose? We give it everything we can. I think there's still some important things that we can understand and learn about the car.

"Obviously if races go like this it's a bit of a handover. I think we're trying our utmost to fight and resist. Let's see what the next races bring."

Since inflicting what had appeared to be a morale-snapping defeat on Mercedes by winning the British Grand Prix mid-way through the year, Vettel has won just once -- at the Belgian Grand Prix. By contrast, Hamilton has won six of the seven races since.