Vettel was far back but carried more speed than the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver going into the corner, but the move proved to be costly as Vettel made contact and spun to the back of the field.
Vettel has conceded that if the upcoming races unfold in the same manner as recent ones, Mercedes will win at a canter.
"The target is to just get the points".
Vettel has dropped from leading the title race to trailing Hamilton by 67 points in just seven grands prix, with his rival winning six of those and now enjoying a four-race victory streak.
Italy's Autosprint magazine carried a cover this week showing Vettel and the headline "Cavallino Mancante" (Missing Horse) - a play on Ferrari's familiar "Cavallino Rampante" prancing stallion.
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The reason 'Ye chose to ditch the "again" is an acknowledgment to the fact that America still needs to put in some work. I don't agree with everything anyone does. "I'm just going to be honest and I may get in a lot of trouble for it".
Lewis Hamilton's pole-to-flag victory, the Briton's sixth win in seven races and ninth of the season, delivered another hammer blow to a rival whose challenge has swiftly self-destructed. Every single race I want battles like Monza.
He added: "From past experiences so much can happen so I will be at the factory this week and the focus will be on extracting as much as we can from this vehicle because we can always improve". F1's points are awarded to the top ten finishers - 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 - meaning he effectively needs to out-score Vettel by eight points in Austin to secure the championship. But, while it is not in the nature of a racing driver to give up or publicly concede defeat when there's even a sniff of a chance, even he must know that, barring a catastrophic stroke of misfortune, Hamilton can not be stopped. Vettel was already on the radio even before he left the pits to tell his team they had messed up.
"I'm not sure it was his mistake", he said. Despite the missed opportunities and dropped points, Ferrari for a large part of the season were regarded as having the quickest auto.
In the last few races, the Mercedes has come back to the fore, and is now the more dominant vehicle over the Prancing Horse. Hamilton, as a result, goes into the next race in the United States very much as the favourite.
When asked about the championship almost being closed, Vettel said: "You say almost".
"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".