MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Ferrari's Formula One title contender Sebastian Vettel has suggested his recent series of spins may have been caused by aerodynamics rather than driver error.
The German, who must win Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix to have any hope of denying Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton a fifth world championship, has spun three times in the last five races while battling for position at the start.
In Italy he tangled with Hamilton on the opening lap, in Japan he spun again after he tried to pass Red Bull's Max Verstappen and in Texas last weekend there was contact with Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
All three came after his car was on the inside.
"The closer you are to the other car I think you lose some downforce and the spins that I had were all quite weird because there was not much I could have done," Vettel told reporters at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit.
"It wasn't like I was going in too fast or would have spun on my own at that speed, not at all. So I guess there must be some sort of hole being on the inside of another car in that position.
"On all three occasions, I wasn't clearly ahead, at best side-by-side... maybe next time I (will) try the outside."
Vettel is 70 points adrift of Hamilton with three races remaining, which means the Briton need only finish seventh to take his fifth title.
If Vettel does not win, Hamilton need not score another point.
Much has been made of Vettel's costly mistakes but the German said he had not tried to do anything stupid.
"I wasn't hard-headed trying to do something that would never work," he said, while accepting the criticism because he was the one who had spun. "Obviously now it's happened a couple of times too much.
"Next time there's a gap I'm sure I will go for a gap but... it's in the back of your head trying to keep the car facing the right direction."
Vettel started on pole in Mexico last year but collided with Hamilton at the start, dropping to 19th before fighting back to finish fourth.
Asked whether he considered this year a championship lost by him as much as one won by Hamilton, Vettel disagreed.
"I always look at it as a championship won by the driver who scores more points than anybody else," he said.
"We could have more but at the end of the day you need to ask yourself whether you've always been in the position to get the result that you needed and wanted."
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)