Hamilton takes fourth title, Verstappen wins in Mexico
Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth Formula 1 world title despite an eventful race that was dominated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
The Mercedes driver was forced to fight his way through the field after contact from title rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap forced the pair to pit lane and to the back of the pack.
With Vettel needing to finish second or better to keep his title hopes alive, the Ferrari driver charged hard to climb to fourth at the chequered flag after suffering a damaged front wing in the first lap clash.
However, Hamilton, who suffered a right rear puncture in the collision, was able to claim the world championship, with two races to spare, by coming home in ninth after a charging drive in the closing stages.
“It doesn’t feel real,” said Hamilton, who became the first Brit to win four world championships.
“I did everything I could and I don’t really know what happened at Turn 3 but I tried to come back.
“I would like to say a big thanks to this team and I’m so grateful for the hard work this year.”
At the front, Verstappen controlled the race in its entirety to take the chequered flag from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third.
After losing a podium in America a week ago, the teenager made a lightning start from second to grab the lead at the first corner.
The Dutchman ran around the outside of pole-sitter Vettel at Turn 1 before the pair touched in the Turn 1-2 chicane.
Trying to recover, Vettel found himself under attack from Hamilton, who had jumped to second.
Worse was to befall the Ferrari driver as he struck the right rear of the Mercedes at Turn 3.
The contact resulted in both drivers limping home to the pits with damage to their cars.
As a result, Verstappen surged into a comfortable lead from Bottas with the order unchanged for the remainder of the 71 lap race.
Force India’s Estaban Ocon occupied third after the opening lap clash but he was unable to stop Raikkonen from jumping him through pit strategy and pace.
Vettel produced a fighting drive from 19th to fourth having scythed his way through the field on the soft compound rubber to finish ahead of the fifth-placed Ocon.
Williams’ Lance Stroll delivered a faultless drive to come home in sixth ahead of local hero Sergio Perez, who pitted late for ultra soft tyres as Force India gambled in the final laps.
Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen finished eighth in front of Hamilton, while the top 10 was rounded out by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who fought hard against Hamilton in the final laps.
It proved to be a race of attrition with the list of retirements headed by Daniel Ricciardo, who suffered a terminal engine issue on Lap 6.
The Australian started from 16th on the grid after taking a penalty for an engine change prior to the start.
New Zealander Brendon Hartley saw his second F1 race curtailed by an engine problem on Lap 32 that caused a Virtual Safety Car period.
Carlos Sainz (Renault), Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) all failed to finish.
The championship heads to Interlagos, Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix from November 10-12.
Result: Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||71|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|6||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|8||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||70||1 Lap|
|9||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|10||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||70||1 Lap|
|11||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||70||1 Lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Honda||70||1 Lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||70||1 Lap|
|14||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber/Ferrari||69||2 Laps|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||69||2 Laps|
|DNF||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||55||Power Unit|
|DNF||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||30||Power Unit|
|DNF||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||5||Retirement|