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"You simply can not imagine how hard it is to do what we do at our level".

His stellar form in that period has coincided with a string of mistakes from Ferrari and Vettel, most recently at the Japanese Grand Prix, where the team botched its qualifying strategy on Saturday and the driver collided with Max Verstappen on Sunday.

"I think the last races we were not as strong and I think the fact that we were better in the race was also due to the fact that they didn't have to push, so you will never get the full picture".

Toto Wolff has stressed that "freak incidents" can still derail Mercedes' and Lewis Hamilton's quest for the 2018 title, in spite of its substantial buffer in both championships.

He made a big error in Germany, sliding into the barriers while leading on a slippery track, to put Hamilton back in front in July and the Mercedes driver has not looked back as Ferrari's season unravelled. 'It makes me think of all the great years that I have had, and quite a few of those were at McLaren when we didn't always have a championship-winning vehicle'.

A win there with Vettel finishing lower than second is all he needs to become only the third driver in F1 history after Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio, to win five or more titles.

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But while Mercedes has been a well-oiled machine this season, several costly errors from Ferrari and Vettel have allowed their rivals to build a near-unassailable lead. Vettel's ensuing mistake also supports one paddock theory that his error-prone campaign has been sparked by trying to manage his hapless Italian team from inside the Ferrari cockpit. I honestly thought that we were going to have that. "As I have said many times, I was a bit disappointed yesterday, but having said so, we win and we lose together and I'm the final one responsible".

"Every single race, I want battles like Monza and like the other ones that have been like that", he added.

"It is very hard to pass around here and follow up the hill, and with the fast corners that we have, but I thought that I could play with the auto and make the tyres last reasonably well", said Vettel.

Hamilton went on to overhaul Kimi Raikkonen to win the Monza race, then took victory in Singapore and Russian Federation - two places where Ferrari was quicker than Mercedes past year, but was outpaced this time.

"If you look, we have the news about the penalty very, very late, Sebastian was doing his job and as far as I know, his vehicle was inside so then if you want to talk about race incidents, I accept this version but the fact is that we were not able to exploit all our potential".

"Now, concerning the future races, I know that the situation looks impossible, but our job sometimes is to challenge the impossible and this is what we going to do and we try to do for the future 4 races".