Drivers are allowed to use three internal combustion engines per season on their cars, but a number of them have already triggered grid penalties by exceeding the allowance during the 22-race season.
Valtteri Bottas lost the grid for Mercedes in Italy and Russia, while teammate Lewis Hamilton dropped 10 grid spots in Turkey after his own change as Mercedes dealt with an engine problem.
Vettel has scored points in just one of the last nine races and struggled for 18th place in Turkey the last time after an attempt to finish the race on slicks that backfired in wet conditions.
But the Aston Martin driver is bracing for another tricky weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, with the team ready to install a new Mercedes powertrain, which would allow Vettel to start the United States GP from the grid background.
“I think we’re heading for, say, a tough weekend,” Vettel said.
“We are changing the engine so we will have a penalty.
“We’ll see what we can do from where we start, and look forward to nonetheless.
“I think we can be strong here. What force? We will see.”
Vettel felt the passing opportunities on the track meant it was a “good place” to take the penalty, adding: “I hope we have a fun Sunday afternoon and get back into the mix.”
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, on the grid
Photo By: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
Even if Vettel only changes the engine of his Mercedes powertrain, it risks resigning him to a departure towards the back of the grid. The quadruple F1 world champion has only qualified once above the P8 this season.
One of the challenges riders will face this weekend in Austin are the bumps on the circuit which prompted a number of MotoGP riders to voice their concerns in the recent race.
Vettel felt that the bumps “generally add character to a circuit” and doubted whether they were as bad for F1 cars as they were for MotoGP motorcycles.
“A few years ago it was pretty bad and they took out the bumps,” Vettel said.
“So maybe in the future they will have to look into this. But I don’t know, we’ll see what comes out of it.
“I think a few weeks ago when MotoGP was here it was pretty bad. For us, it is not as bad as it is for them.
“But we’ll see. In general, I’m a fan of moguls.