MEXICO CITY, (Reuters) – Lewis Hamilton became Britain’s first four-time Formula One world champion at the Mexican Grand Prix yesterday despite enduring his worst race of the season.
In a race won by Red Bull’s Dutch 20-year-old Max Verstappen, the 32-year-old Mercedes driver fought back from last place to ninth after a first lap collision with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel, the only man who could have denied him the championship, started on pole position and finished fourth after having to pit for a new front wing at the end of the first lap and dropping to 19th.
Hamilton now has an unassailable lead of 56 points with two races, worth a total of 50, remaining.
“I did everything that I could. I had a good start. I don’t really know what happened at Turn Three – I gave him plenty of room,” said a jubilant Hamilton, the British flag draped over his shoulders.
“It doesn’t feel real. That’s not the kind of race that you want but I never gave up. I kept going right to the end.”
Since the start of the season, in which he has won nine times so far, he had not finished lower than seventh.
Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas finished second at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third.
Vettel had needed to be in the top two to have any chance of taking the title fight down to Brazil in two weeks’ time but his already slim hopes seemed to have disappeared within seconds of the start.