Britain’s Lewis Hamilton has been crowned Formula One world champion after he finished ninth in a dramatic Mexican Grand Prix.
The race was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen but Mercedes’ Hamilton clinched his fourth drivers’ championship after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was unable to win the race following collisions between the trio on the first lap.
“It doesn’t feel real. It is not the kind of race I wanted, 40 seconds behind, but I never gave up,” Hamilton said.
“That is what is important and in my heart. I am grateful for today.”
It was a third grand prix win for 20-year-old Dutchman Verstappen while Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was second with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo had a day to forget after being forced out of the race on lap six with his Red Bull experiencing turbo trouble.
The opening lap of the race was highly eventful with polesitter Vettel banging wheels with Verstappen before Vettel and Hamilton also touched.
Debris from the Ferrari flew onto the track and Hamilton suffered a punctured right rear tyre.
A seething Hamilton asked his team over the radio if Vettel made contact “on purpose.”
“Not sure, Lewis,” the team replied.
Race stewards determined no investigation was necessary.
Vettel pitted for a new front wing and Hamilton for a new rear tyre and the pair rejoined the race with Hamilton last and Verstappen clear in the lead.
“I hated the race but I am super happy now,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told Britain’s Radio Five.
“He (Hamilton) has achieved it and the team has won. This is most important,” he said, adding, “It was a bizarre accident.”
Hamilton made it up to ninth place, after a late altercation with old rival Fernando Alonso, which was enough for the title as long as Vettel did not win.
Hamilton’s championship makes him the most decorated British driver in F1 history, surpassing the record of Sir Jackie Stewart. He is one of only five drivers in F1 history with four or more titles.