Lewis Hamilton was crowned a four-time Formula 1 World Champion courtesy of a ninth-place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix last weekend, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking a dominant third victory of his career.
Both Hamilton and championship rival Sebastian Vettel fell to the rear of the field on the opening lap after colliding whilst disputing second place, with Vettel requiring a new front wing after the carbon fibre had punctured Hamilton’s right-rear tyre on contact.
Whilst the latter would recover his Ferrari to fourth, Hamilton’s ninth position ensures that with two races to go, the championship is now mathematically out of Vettel’s reach, giving Mercedes a clean sweep of both titles for the fourth successive season.
Both were out-classed on the day, in truth, by a superlative drive from Verstappen, who feared he would fail to finish after team-mate Daniel Ricciardo retired in the early stages with his second engine-related drama of the weekend.
Valtteri Bottas finished a distant second to the Dutchman on the day, close to 20 seconds adrift, with Kimi Raikkonen completing the podium.
Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll were similarly impressive with drives to fifth and sixth respectively, the latter after starting outside the top ten, with home hero Sergio Perez classified seventh.
Kevin Magnussen, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso completed the points-paying positions.
To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now,” admitted Hamilton.
“There is all this energy from the people around you, but it takes a while for it to really sink in. I am incredibly grateful when I think about everything that was going on this year and everything that had to be in place to produce this result.
“I didn’t do this on my own, there are over a thousand people back in Brackley and Brixworth who have created this beast that has given me the opportunity to exploit my abilities. I have received such great support from around the world, and I want to thank all of you that believed in me.
“To do this on Mexican soil, to shine a positive light on a country that has been through such a difficult time over the past few months, makes this really special. It doesn’t matter what happened in the race today.
“I carry ‘Still I Rise’ on the back of my helmet – it means when you get knocked down, you get back up again and keep pushing as hard as you can. I never gave up, and I kept pushing. Four is a great number – but I want number five now!”
“I know the team has been working hard, doing their best, but we didn’t achieve what we wanted to,” said his defeated rival, Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s hard to cross the line realizing that you are not in the fight anymore. I fought to the end, giving everything I had. Then obviously in the last laps, when I had a big gap to Kimi [Raikkonen], it would have been difficult for me to close it without something happening, like a Safety Car, but I was still believing.
“But in the end it didn’t happen. For sure it is not a great day for us, but it’s not about us today, it’s about Lewis and I congratulate him. Tomorrow you wake up and it will be a different day. The team is growing, and there are many positive aspects. Overall, I think we are on the right path.”
The championship heads next to the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for the penultimate round of the 2017 season.