Mexico City - Lewis
Hamilton clinched his fourth drivers' world championship in unexpected
but dramatic fashion on Sunday when, after a first lap collision with
title rival Sebastian Vettel, he finished ninth in the Mexican Grand
The 32-year-old Briton, who would have needed to finish in the top
five to be sure of the title if Vettel had won the race, battled from
last position in his Mercedes after suffering a puncture that needed an
opening lap pit-stop as Dutchman Max Verstappen won the race for Red
Vettel, already a four-time champion, came home fourth for Ferrari
after driving through the field from 19th following his part in the
early crash with Hamilton. He also pitted for a new front wing.
Hamilton's title triumph made him the first Briton to be a four-time
champion, elevating him clear of Jackie Stewart, and alongside Vettel
and Frenchman Alain Prost.
Only German Michael Schumacher with seven titles and Argentine
Juan-Manuel Fangio on five have claimed more championships than the
"I don't know what happened at turn three, I gave him plenty of room," said Hamilton.
"It doesn't feel real man. It's not the race you want when you're 40 seconds down, but I never gave up."
After five wins in the previous six races, it was a disappointing way
for Hamilton - who said he wanted to win the title in style - to win
Verstappen won the race convincingly ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes
team-mate Valtteri Bottas and his Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen of
"I'd like to say a big thanks to everybody in this Mercedes team,"
said Hamilton. "What you've done the past couple of years is incredible.
I'm so grateful."
Vettel finished fourth ahead
of Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India, Williams' Canadian rookie
Lance Stroll on his 19th birthday, and local Mexican hero Sergio Perez
in the second Force India.
Dane Kevin Magnussen finished eighth for Haas ahead of Hamilton and
two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who battled hard to resist Hamilton
before finishing 10th for McLaren.
Verstappen led from the first lap once Hamilton and Vettel had clashed.
"The start was very crucial, I went around the outside and from then
on I was just looking after the car and the tyres," said the Dutchman
after a third race win.
"Big thanks to Red Bull, without them it was not possible. After last
week (when he received a five-second penalty in Austin which lost him
third place), it was a perfect race."
Mercedes' non-executive director Niki Lauda, a three-time world champion, hailed Hamilton's achievement.
"Lewis won it, he deserves it," said Lauda who said Vettel was at fault for the opening lap collision.
"I don't know why Sebastian drove so aggressively to destroy his
race. Lewis was in front and Vettel hit him with his front wing, I just
don't understand it."
The race was run in near-perfect conditions at the Autodromo Hermanos
Rodriguez, with an air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and the track
at 24, Vettel making a decent start from his 50th pole position.
But with a long 890-metre straight run to Turn One, both Verstappen
and Hamilton made attacks, the Dutchman fighting his way round the
outside to snatch the lead.
Hamilton followed him and as he
passed Vettel, the pair collided, the German’s Ferrari running into
Hamilton’s rear right wheel and causing a puncture amid a flurry of
Both had to limp back to the pits where Vettel took a new front wing
and Hamilton, slower to complete the lap, took a new set of tyres.
They rejoined in 19th and 20th places with the Englishman a long distance from the field ahead.
“Simply, simply lovely,” said a delighted Verstappen on his Red Bull
team radio as he pulled out a comfortable advantage ahead of Bottas.
“Did he hit me deliberately?” asked Hamilton. “Not sure, Lewis,” came the reply.
As a result of that collision, Hamilton’s hopes of taking the title
with a win were severely deflated, but not those of being champion -
Vettel needing to win, or finish second, to keep his challenge alive.
Remarkably, for Hamilton, he was lapped for the first time since the
2013 Spanish Grand Prix before he and Vettel began to pass their way
through the field to set up a tense closing period.
Knowing Vettel was unlikely to climb to second, Hamilton knew he
would be champion, but he fought hard to score points and took ninth
place with a battling pass of Alonso in the closing laps.
World championship standings after Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 333 pts (champion)
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 277
3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 262
4. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 192
5. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) 178
6. Max Verstappen (NED) 148
7. Sergio Pérez (MEX) 92
8. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 83
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 54
10. Lance Stroll (CAN) 40
11. Felipe Massa (BRA) 36
12. Nico Hülkenberg (GER) 34
13. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 28
14. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 19
15. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 13
16. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 11
17. Jolyon Palmer (GBR) 8
18. Pascal Wehrlein (GER) 5
19. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 5
1. Mercedes 595 pts (champions)
2. Ferrari 455
3. Red Bull 340
4. Force India 175
5. Williams 76
6. Toro Rosso 53
7. Renault 48
8. Haas 47
9. McLaren-Honda 24
10. Sauber 5