"I definitely hadn't anticipated that they would tail off as they have".
The Briton now has a 67-point lead over Vettel with four races remaining and can sew up the championship next week with victory in Austin should the German finish lower than second.
"I can't wait to unleash this beast in Austin", he added, pointing at his vehicle.
Verstappen went on to finish third regardless, and when told by team principal Christian Horner after the race that he would not be "too popular with Ferrari and the Italians", he jovially replied: "That's not my problem, they were too aggressive".
Vettel was left wondering what might have been after a ruining an electric start with an ill-advised attempt to duck inside Verstappen at turn 13.
Afterwards Verstappen said: "You can't overtake in that corner".
Raikkonen tried to clear him round the outside of the second part of the chicane, only to be forced off by the rejoining Red Bull and fall behind Vettel.
"It was a bit late and obviously opportunistic", he said. The gap was there but as soon as he saw me obviously he defended.
"I had the speed".
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"We have given everything so far and I believe there's still something we can learn and understand from the auto". The incident was investigated by the stewards but they took no further action. Force India's Esteban Ocan was ninth while Renault's Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10.
Sebastian Vettel believes Max Verstappen is completely to blame for their Japanese Grand Prix collision, which all but ended Vettel's 2018 Formula 1 world championship hopes.
"When we got to mid-season we got that win going into the break and then again, really pushing to make sure that we come back even stronger so again, set the bar high".
A clever early-ish pit stop switched Verstappen's tyres and left him out on track fighting for position until the very end - despite his time penalty.
Indeed, the move smelt of desperation, and it marked Vettel's second mistake of the weekend, after he ran off track in qualifying, and his seventh of an error-prone campaign. "I am grateful to have also delivered when the time has been to deliver". For me, the gap was there - otherwise I wouldn't do it.
"It's normal that it sometimes gets close but you need to always give the space and in that case I couldn't go anywhere and then we touched". "He could have been more careful".
Vettel spun around and resumed at the back.
As his chances of pipping Hamilton to a fifth Formula One crown slip away, Vettel was still seething after the race. "Obviously with that outcome you would do it differently". I had lost a lot of downforce, but there was not much I could do. "I am just grateful to have delivered".
Verstappen though was unrepentant and called his penalty "stupid".