Mexican Grand Prix: 6 things you need to know as Hamilton seals title No 5
Well he made a meal of it, but Lewis Hamilton is now a five time Formula 1 world champion.
He perhaps didn’t seal it with the race result he might have wanted, but his name is on the trophy even if he didn’t make it on to the podium in Mexico.
Here’s how they finished, and everything you need to know…
1. Five star Ham makes a meal of it
For a car/driver combo that has been so dominant over the course of this season, Lewis and Mercedes sure made hard work of this final furlong.
After a lightening start that saw him up to second off the line, the Brit then had a miserable race, struggling with tyres, being ratty on the radio, and watching helpless as first Sebastian Vettel and then Danial Ricciardo cruised past him.
He eventually finished fourth after lifting and coasting for the final few laps, but that was enough to put him level on championship with the great Juan Manuel Fangio – and just two behind Michael Schumacher’s all time record.
“It was a horrible race,” he said afterwards with a big smile on his face as he contemplated title number five.
It’s just the third time he has not been on the podium this season, and bizarrely, it’s the third time he has won the title and *not* been on the rostrum in the race he sealed it.
Still, right now you can be sure he doesn’t care. What next for this record breaking Englishman? Can he go on and match Schumacher’s record? Don’t bet against him…
2. Vettel finally has a faultless race
In reality, the title has been beyond Sebastian Vettel for some time, partly because he’s been driving so scruffily in the second half of the season, with spins, poor overtaking moves and unprovoked errors.
But today in Mexico he finally drove a faultless race without incident to finish second. In championship terms it was far too little too late, but it was at least his first podium in Mexico, and there was a nice moment after the race when he cut short his TV interview to go and give Hamilton hearty congratulations. Classy.
3. Maxico Verstappen
All the plaudits will go to Hamilton for his title success, but this race was a superb, mature and well managed victory for Max Verstappen – his second win on the bounce in Mexico.
He was as upset as a bull with a sore head after missing out on pole on Saturday, but on race day – just like last year – he muscled his way into the lead at the very start, and then managed his tyres better than anyone else on the circuit, and still had enough time in his pocket over Vettel in the last ten laps to turn down his engine and take the flag.
In the second half of this season he has looked like a real contender, and if Honda can (as we all hope) sort their engine out, Lewis might have to fight both Vettel and Verstappen for the 2019 title.
4. The only luck Ricciardo has is bad
Daniel Ricciardo – is there a more unlucky man in F1 right now?
The answer is emphatically ‘no’.
He had a poor start from pole and was down to third by the end of the first lap, but he was running a happy second with just ten laps to go when, yet again, his engine went bang and his race was over.
It is his eighth DNF this season – more than any other driver on the grid. It’s desperately unlucky for a man who is saying goodbye to Red Bull in two races time, to go to a Renault team which is not expected to be challenging for wins next term.
Plenty of fans are hoping for a podium at least for the Honey Badger in Brazil or Abu Dhabi to finish his RBR stint off.
5. Muy mal dia
Other than Ricciardo, the only drivers to DNF from this race were the three Spanish speaking guys.
Fernando Alonso was out on lap three after contact on the opening lap, and his McLaren replacement Carlos Sainz followed suit on lap 29 with a mechanical failure on his Renault.
But the biggest downer for this huge and passionate crowd was when home town hero Sergio Perez was forced out of the race following a brake failure.
You could feel the groan of disappointment all around this magnificent track from his thousands of supporters. If Checo ever gets near a podium around here the roof is going to come right off the whole place.
6. All over for 2018? Think again…
So the drivers’ title is wrapped up, but the constructors’ is still not done. Mercedes are 55 points ahead right now so it looks like it's heading their way once again, but with 86 points to play for, Ferrari will keep pushing til the end.
Reason enough to tune in to the Brazilian Grand Prix in two week's time. See you then!