Lewis Hamilton became the most successful British racing driver of all time after claiming his fourth world title with a ninth placed finish as Max Verstappen led home the field in the Mexican Grand Prix.
Hamilton secured the points he needed to confirm his championship victory with two races remaining, with nearest challenger Sebastian Vettel no longer able to catch the Mercedes driver.
“It doesn’t feel real”, Hamilton gushed after the race.
“I’ve been reminiscing a lot about where I came from: growing up in Stevenage, dreaming of being in F1,” added the newly anointed champion.
However, the weekend did not entirely go to plan for the Brit. Despite Hamilton’s “dream” of clinching the title with a race win, a first lap collision with championship rival Vettel left him running in last place.
After an early pit stop for both drivers it was Vettel who made the early moves, steaming through the grid with ease. He knew he needed a second place finish to keep this title alive, and that was exactly where his sights were set.
“It’s tough to cross the line and realise you’re not in the fight anymore” – Sebastian vettel
Hamilton and his winning Mercedes seemed to come alive after a tire change to the super softs, and Hamilton easily made his way through the grid. This fight culminated in a battle with his old rival Fernando Alonso, which took Hamilton three laps to overcome. This left him in a title clinching ninth place, where he finished the race.
“Mamma mia” was the exasperated response from Vettel, after being told that he was 26 seconds behind third place runner, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. He finished the race in an impressive, but disappointing, fourth place.
“I’m down, obviously. It’s tough to cross the line and realise that you’re not in the fight anymore”, Vettel commented after the race.
Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Verstappen enjoyed “one of the easiest races of [his] career”, leading every lap of the race. He met the chequered flag 20 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor Valtteri Bottas, a gap which he managed to pull out early in the race.
“I felt I missed out yesterday [on pole] so I felt I had to make it right today”, Verstappen stated.
“We couldn’t slow him down”, Red Bull Racing team principle, Christian Horner, commented.
“He dominated the Grand Prix and it was a question of slowing him down. We had concerns, one was reliability – we kept seeing fellow cars with similar power units dropping out – and it was quite nerve-wracking.”
“it’s been another special weekend. I have to say a huge thank you to the fans for the energy they have given me” – Sergio perez
In fact, all but one of the non-finishers had a Renault powered engine in their car. Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was the first victim, retiring on the fifth lap of the race with an MGH-U issue. After powering from 16th to seventh in those few laps, Ricciardo was obviously disappointed to be eliminated so early.
“I told Helmut [Marko, team advisor] this morning that I would get up to seventh by the end of the first lap, I was a couple of laps off, but I got there and it was all looking pretty good”, Ricciardo explained.
“There seems to be something fundamental going on with the engines.”
Home hero Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon enjoyed a very strong race, finishing in seventh and fifth respectively. This decent haul of points secured fourth place in the constructors championship for the team.
“The main objective of the weekend was to confirm fourth place in the championship so I’m extremely happy that we have done this with two races to spare”, Perez stated.
“It’s been another special weekend with so much support from the fans and I have to say a huge thank you to all of them for the energy they have given me.”
But the weekend ultimately belonged to Hamilton, who reclaims the world title he won in 2008, 2014 and 2015.
The championship may be wrapped up but there are still two races of the season left with the grid back in action on the 12th of November in Brazil.
–Charlotte Andrews, Correspondent (Sport)