Lewis Hamilton has become the most successful British F1 driver after securing his fourth world title at the Mexican Grand Prix.
The achievement moves him one clear of Sir Jackie Stewart – Britain’s previously most successful driver – and puts him level with Sebastian Vettel and Frenchman Alain Prost. Debunking Michael Schumacher as the all-time record holder would require another trio of world titles and, aged 32, that is far from impossible for Hamilton.
Despite securing the 2017 title in Mexico, the race didn’t go how Hamilton would’ve liked, as he suffered a puncture during a collision with his Ferrari rival Vettel on the first lap. The collision also claimed Vettel’s front wing and, over the radio, Hamilton asked his team: “Do you think he hit me deliberately?”. His team did not offer a reply.
The incident meant both title rivals had to pit at the end of the lap and, upon joining the rest of the pack, Hamilton was stuck trailing at the back behind Sainz for almost 30 laps while title rival Vettel made steady progress and was soon up to eighth.
With 15 laps left, Hamilton – who had hoped to claim the title with a win in Mexico – asked his team what position he needed to wrap up the championship. He was also told that Vettel needed second and when he asked whether that was possible, his team simply replied ‘negative’.
It was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who actually won the race with Hamilton in ninth and Vettel in fourth, boosting the Mercedes driver’s points tally to an insurmountable 333.
“I don’t fear him. I like racing with him. I would have liked a little more this year. Overall, they [Mercedes] were better.”
For Hamilton, it was all a little too much to process. “To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now,” he said.
“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.
“I never gave up, and I kept pushing. Four is a great number – but I want number five now.”
Stephen Hasley, brand manager at Petrol News, comments: “Whether you love or hate the guy, he’s one of the most positive figures in F1 and, with this fourth world title, is unquestionably the stuff of legend.”
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