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AUSTIN, Texas – When Formula One was last in the United States, Sebastian Vettel had already earned his fourth consecutive world championship in a season of domination not seen since Michael Schumacher's days at Ferrari.
Then came the engine change, from the screeching V8s to the sublime hybrid turbo V6.
The effect was a demolition of an F1 dynasty built by Vettel's Red Bull team in a move that most thought would produce a wide-open title chase in 2014.
Instead, F1 simply exchanged one dominant team for another. Mercedes has crushed the competition with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg just 17 points apart in the title chase heading into this week's U.S. Grand Prix.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo sits a distant third in the driver's championship with only three races left.