AUSTIN — After the 2014 United States Grand Prix held at Circuit of The Americas, Sebastian Vettel wasn’t in the best of moods.

Classy, for sure. He always is. But a seventh-place finish didn’t thrill him. Heck, the whole 2014 season annoyed him.

Vettel had been world champion four straight years: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He’d won the U.S. Grand Prix in 2013.

But he wasn’t really a factor in the 2014 U.S. Grand Prix, he didn’t win a single Formula I race all year, and he and sponsor Red Bull Racing ultimately parted ways.

On Sunday, after a third-place finish in Austin, Vettel, now racing for Scuderia Ferrari, was all smiles.

“Of course I prefer to win,” he said. “But Lewis Hamilton did a great job today and he deserved it.”

After Sunday’s qualifications, Vettel was 14th on the grid. But the 28-year old from Germany started the race with a flourish: Vettel was in sixth place by Lap 5.

He was in fourth place by Lap 27. He moved to third by Lap 35 and second by Lap 41.

Ultimately, Vettel finished behind world champion Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

It clearly pleased Vettel, who has three F1 wins this season, that he was again a factor in Austin.

“When you start 14th and you finish on that podium that’s pretty good,” he said.

“Equally, let’s not forget the targets that we set out in the beginning: It’s a new start for the entire team. I think we’ve exceeded expectations this year by quite a lot.

“The target is to come back stronger next year and just to keep making progress.”

Contact Allan Mandell at amandell@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7566 and read his column at KDHPressbox.com

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