Not in the script : Lewis Hamilton avoids downbeat moment of F1 history
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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Oct 2017   |  10:11 pm GMT  |  145 comments

Lewis Hamilton won the F1 drivers world championship for the fourth time, becoming the most successful British driver of all time, but not in the way he had hoped to do it.

Hamilton was looking for a moment of glory with a race win, but instead his race was blighted by contact with his title rival at the start that led both into the pits at the end of Lap 1. He finished ninth.

“Not the race we wanted, but who cares? Four time world champion!” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff over the radio.

“A big thanks to everyone in this team what you have done this last couple of years has been incredible and I’m very grateful, thank you,” replied the new champion.

“It doesn’t feel real (the fourth title),” he said, while wrapped in the Union Flag in front of the huge Mexican crowd.

“It’s not the kind of race I want. I did everything I could; I got a good start. I don’t know what happened at Turn 3 but I came back.”

Hamilton even suffered the indignity of being lapped by the race leader Max Verstappen and by Valtteri Bottas.

Over the radio at one point he asked whether Vettel had driven into him on purpose, which his engineer answered uncertainly.

The resulting race looked set to be one of those occasional desultory ones, where he seemed to be brooding and struggling to come through the field, with a damaged car. But in the closing stages he came alive and had a wonderful battle with Fernando Alonso’s McLaren which went on for several corners as he climbed through the points.

It was a strange way to end what has been one of his most effective seasons in F1, where his driving in qualifying and races has gone up a level. THe championship battle with Vettel was compelling up to the day when Vettel crashed into Verstappen and Raikkonen in Singapore, then had two consecutive engine problems in Malaysia and Japan, which gave Hamilton a slam dunk.

It’s a shame that the end of the championship was not as exciting as the start, but they all count the same and Hamilton’s fourth title makes him only the fifth driver to cross this threshold.

I’ve been fortunate to see four drivers do this in my career. First Alain Prost in 1993, then Michael Schumacher in 2001, then Sebastian Vettel in 2013 and now Hamilton. The only other man who has been there is Juan Manuel Fangio, whose five world championships is now Hamilton’s target.

Vettel was magnanimous in defeat: “Overall he was the better man and did the better job, simple as that.”

Force India in the pink – 4th place achievement impressive
Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez have been a compelling story this season and another strong race weekend in Mexico confirmed their fourth place in the Constructor’s Championship, a fabulous result for the independent team from Silverstone.

In many ways they are the benchmark independent team in F1, operating on just below the $150m a year that we believe the budget cap will be set at when it comes in. They do a fantastic job on that budget and although they have not got a podium yet this season, they have been super consistent and impressive. Congratulations to Vijay Mallya, Bob Fernley, Andy Green and Tom McCullogh who get more bang for their buck than any other F1 team.

Ocon has a 27 race finishing streak and has been a consistent points scorer all season; but for me the story is he has moved has up a gear in the last couple of months, doing what keen observers of F1 drivers had hoped to see from him – qualifying and racing ahead of Perez in the final part of the season.

The 20 year old Frenchman is putting Mercedes on alert for 2019. Although Daniel Ricciardo has been linked with Valtteri Bottas’ seat at the end of 2018, the three pointed star has invested in Ocon for a few years now, having bought him off Gerard Lopez’ Gravity Management.

His development curve is that of a top F1 driver of the future and his first third of 2018 will be fascinating to watch.


Anyone want to buy a used Renault motor?
Although they got their third win of the season, with Max Verstappen, it was also difficult weekend for Renault’s engines. Pierre Gasly hardly turned a lap in practice, Daniel Ricciardo took a massive grid penalty and then suffered a failure in the race and Nico Hulkenberg was also told to ‘stop the car’. Carlos Sainz also retired from the race.

The French manufacturer has had a push towards the end of the season and Red Bull has risen on performance, but it’s not been without pain.

Much rests on what they can do for 2018 as to whether the works team and McLaren can get podiums, the Red Bull can get regular wins and even fight for the championship.

What did you think of the Mexican Grand Prix? How do you rate the job Force India has done? Leave your comment below

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1

After hearing that drivers debrief I know what happened. Track limts were discussed. Hamilton said why didn’t Vettel get a penalty if Max did. The answer was terrible. I think made Hamilton willing to take a risk. Those 3 are going to take risks. I bet he don’t stop racing hard. He has a lot of respect well at least for him for Vettel.

2

Hamilton s car had battle scars all over it. Someone mentioned the diffuser. Maybe so but I think they should have went red purple instead of yellow red. He might have got 5th and controlled his own fate. Now Vettel got in an out much faster than Hamilton did. He played to win and almost did. Vettel should have run into Bottas maybe then he would have clipped his wing without getting his tire. I think Vettel was in a sandwich just like Max was. Max got a slightly better start but 3 wide does not work there or as Kevin Harvick said about Martinsville there is going to be beating and banging and hurt feelings cause on tracks where there a few places to pass sometimes you have to be rude and move people out of your way. There was quite a bit of that in Mexico. It seems a prime track for that.

Everyone seems so upset about that boxing announcer at Austin. Liberty is not wanting to pay these teams like Ferrari for just showing up. I know Fiat sold a bunch of stock a while back but whether they get money or not the money should be about winning and where you finish and if there is a payout beyond that it should be divided equally.

Now isn’t that fair? RB knows how to make this work better than it does now and I think hey it’s OK for people to make money if they earn it.

3

Without a doubt the most cost-effective team in F1.

4

Great drive by Vettel, showed that he would have walked the race if the mad stappen did not yet again try and take him out like in Singapore. Mad stappen not worthy to shine vettels boots and lets hope he gets nowhere near a Ferrari drive in the future. Hamilton may have won he crown but deep down he and Mercedes realise their time is up and the red stallion was the fastest car this year and will be odds on for next years title

5

pas67, you seem the sour note in the otherwise very civilised comments on this page. sorry to see you’re full of negativism..have a look at Hamilton’s new attitude, it seems to work well for him. So i look forward to next year!

6

I think there is spice to come in the final two races. Vettel will want the no. 2 slot in the championship and Mercedes will take great delight in giving it to Bottas instead. Ferrari would be mortified.

So I predict an exciting last two races of the season, with Hamilton pulling out the stops to help his team-mate (and he won’t be averse to banking some goodwill for next season).

7

We were robbed of a big fight at the front between 3 drivers because of what to most looks like the usual Vettel channeling shumacher.
Although it was unlikely Lewis would ever loose the title he was denied a fitting way to win it and stand on the podium in the top 3.
I would guess he will redouble his efforts for the next races and into next year now he is aware what his rivals will stoop to.
Was fantastic to see him in that dust up with Alonso for 9th even though it was not really needed.
Alonso can sleep easy about the last 3 years knowing that he would never have won the title staying with ferrari.

8
Fernando 150% Alonso

You’re right about Alonso in your late sentence. But, i think he will have offered us a longer battle, until the last race in Abu Dhabi

9

At what point do we start mentioning Lewis consistently in discussions as a top-5 driver in F1 history? He’s certainly got the resume and the records for it and stands out among his contemporaries in pretty much every aspect of driving skill. (Wet, single-lap pace, overtaking, driving around car deficienies etc.) In my mind he has at least earned a place in the discussion for the top-5 along with the likes of Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Fangio, and Clark (the others who I think qualify on balance)- and I think he’s clearly ahead of at least one or two of them. (Fangio for sure, probably Prost.)

And to be honest, I don’t think Lewis is anywhere near finished. He seems to have all the energy in the world and is ready for a tougher fight. I think he also knows that Mercedes has another ace in the hole for the last three years of the engine formula- of which they are still on top in terms of horsepower- with the addition of James Allison as the technical director. The guy is a proven engineer and technical chief with a track record of rapidly improving every car he’s had a chance to touch. There may be some concern now that Ferrari and especially Red Bull seem to have caught them on race pace, but Allison alone provides all the reason to expect Mercedes to continue at the top for the next three years- and I think there’s a really good chance he’ll beat or match all of Schumacher’s records before he’s done.

I think Mercedes should definitely take Ocon over Ricciardo for 2019. What he’s doing against Perez- matching him over the course of the season, and for the last few races beating him rather convincingly- is more impressive at this point in his career than what Ricciardo was doing at the same point at Toro Rosso against JEV. He’s not afraid to mix it up with anyone, just like Ricciardo, and that will be necessary against Lewis. There’s every reason in my eyes based on this to believe that he could do just as good a job as Ricciardo against Lewis if not a better one- and for much cheaper.

I think Ricciardo is on the verge of following in the footsteps of his countryman Mark Webber. He’s got top level pace and arguably the best racecraft in all of F1- and, like Webber, is certainly championship calibre. But he has the misfortune of going up against a generational wunderkind with Verstappen who is only going to get stronger and stronger against him with experience. And based on the comments coming out the team heads, it looks like Red Bull is moving in the direction of establishing Verstappen as the #1 driver like they did Vettel and building the team around him. It looks like that all of the doors out are shut, as Mercedes and Ferrari have top quality junior drivers they seem keen to promote to race seats that they’ll be able to do for cheaper and perhaps to less consternation of their existing star drivers.

The only way out I can see for Ricciardo that gives him a chance of winning a championship is to work his way into a seat with Renault somehow. They’re on the way up and committing the necessary resources to building a championship team, and we already know they tried to get him at the last minute in the negotiations with Red Bull, even though they had been talking to Sainz already for a year. Though to me, this would mean that either Sainz ends up getting outperformed handily by Hulkenberg- which I think is highly unlikely, as I think Sainz is a level above Hulkenberg and will beat him- or that Renault ends up dropping Hulkenberg, which they don’t seem keen to do at all and seem very happy with him as a driver. However, I would expect rumors involving Renault and Ricciardo to pick up next year- and that it will be part of a greater series of conflicts between the two sides going forward.

10

Well, no surprise there, Vettel continues to show his weaknesses – essentially entitlement combined with temperament.

Lewis did as he promised, he went for a win – very little to lose and being conservative at the start just dumps you back into the grips of the next fast charger.

First corner was always going to be a problem and Seb knew Verstappen doesn’t give an inch so no problems with his aggression there, it would have been expected and planned, but Hamilton…

Here is my reading, Vettel was so surprised that Hamilton mugged him (taking an open door that no driver would ever refuse, however conservative a race they may be planning) that he had another of his road rages and simply floored it without thought about how he was going to deal with it – stewards implied he was out of control, but I think that was self-induced. He’s got years of form for that and his fundamental weakness is that he has not even tried to address it. I believe that is because he has a second flaw of an over-developed sense of entitlement.

That’s the difference between Hamilton and Vettel, Hamilton believes in himself and he believes he can make the difference to get in front and works out how to do it with his particular skills. Vettel simply believes he should be in front and hasn’t therefore done the work to address his shortcomings. After the race, often we have seen Vettel put on the act of being the cool, calm and collected person, but year after year in the car, he has made basic errors that have cost him. He’s never been able to consistently judge where he is in his car relative to others – he needs to sit in the simulator for a couple of weeks, grinding away and sorting out that weakness. He clearly has the potential as to drive at that level he does must be instinctive, so he just needs to hone those instincts. As he feels entitled, he comes away feeling hard done by rather than sensing that there is something for him to address. In a way, he reflects the Ferrari culture perfectly – they should be able to win, they have the money and the skills, but something in their culture stops them addressing that last 1% – they thought they’d done enough at the start of the season and relaxed. When they realised they hadn’t, rather than looking at what to do, the blame game starts, heads dropped, mistakes and carelessness (even if only the trivial error of the fire extinguisher this time which could have actually had serious consequences and will have unsettled preparations when they needed to be 100%).

I think Merc dropped the ball in going for the yellows – too conservative, and clearly they had not done the work to understand that the low level of grip just wasn’t going to cut it in traffic. I’m not convinced Lewis had damage and I think he was fighting in a car that didn’t want to give – once he changed tyres he could deliver. Be interesting to hear from Merc their thinking on why 70 laps on a severely sub-optimal tyre was going to be better than two charging sessions on super or even ultras. Clearly Hamilton was questioning why he hadn’t been given ultras rather than super-soft for the last session on the team radio – though he’s learned a lot of tact in recent months!

I hope Renault have got development parts to try, because they’ve got plenty of drivers to try them on. Alonso gives another reason to be a little less impressed with his sulky response to being overtaken by Hamilton – but at least he gave Hamilton a chance to demonstrate that in close quarters, he is the man.

11

SV red mist again. A great shame as it deprived us of a good LH and MV battle. Think LH might have got him as VB was only 16 seconds astern.

12

I’m a little more optimistic about McLaren next season. If Renault can match the reliability to the speed they seem to be getting out of their engine now, McLaren could well be in the mix. The chassis has been often touted as the best in the field so next year we will surely get to find out.

As for Vettel, he has turned into the crash kid again. I think his four titles won with such domination has really cost him the experience of wheel to wheel battles. That weakness is now being exposed. If you take the top four drivers, Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen and Alonso, Vettel is easily the worst at wheel to wheel racing. I think we are approaching an era of very tight competition and that could really prove crucial over the coming years.

Vettel struck me as a desperate figure in that lap one battle as he seemed completely lacking in skill against two superior wheel to wheel drivers.

13

Downbeat, a fitting end of an anything but spectaculair season for Mercedes. Their dominance has been broken. Red Bull and Ferari both failed to captilize on this. Reb Bull by not being ready for the season, Ferrari due to reliability issues and Vettel’s performances.

It just makes me struggle where to put LH’s performances. Is the car that much overrated because? If true, it explains VB’s performances and why the other Merc powered teams are further down. If the car is that great, than why has Mercedes resigned VB?

And why was LH not able to slice through the field like Vettel did? Could the answer be that there was more than a puncture? This due to the accident itself or as a consequence of driving around with a punctured tyre.

And now about Force India, secured 4th place. Great for customer team, outdoing the Renault worksteam. Only surpassed by Red Bull, but considering it´s budget, but it should be labeled as factoryteam without it´s own engine. Yet the gap between Mercedes and Force India is very significant, and with Williams not that far behind, I think it´s fair to say that at least we can rate the Mercedes engine. But car and drivers, it leaves me puzzling.

Oh well a couple of races more to go. Most important prizes are out. Maybe we´ll see the drivers going out for additional glory and having knives between their teeth. And since forth has been secured for FI, Perez and Ocon are free to race eachother as well.

Counting on exciting races to come up.

14

Lewis is a bit lazy. Last year and this year also he started very mediocre. Only when things begin to look bleak he finds the ultimate gear. Last year an engine failure was too much, this year everything went wel.
But it only shows what a great sportsman he is. Winning by fighting!
Ocon is at least a second Ricciardo, fast and mature. If i was Mercedes i would promote him to the main team, say as of Barcelona next year…
But really Renault, what a disastrous reliability. Hard to imagine that next year they will have a powerful AND reliable engine. But if they do 2018 will become a fantastic F1 year!

15

Well done Lewis! The best man won and deserved the championship, especially after the summer break.

With regards to Vettel, notwithstanding the unfortunate engine problems he suffered, I think the one word that has summed up his downfall this campaign is, when you think back on Baku, Singapore and Mexico: impetuous.

16

We really do need a better Renault engine next year don’t we James. 5 teams with a chance of winning a race would be great even with a halo on the car!

James how come Kvyat hasnt been linked with a drive at Williams next season I think he could be good option for them.

17

I think Renault will be in a world of hurt if they don’t deliver in 2018, as they have been building up expectations for the 2018 spec themselves. No way around that now. Not to mention that they swapped the least complaining customer in Torro Rosso for another customer team famous to complain a lot.

18

He has been mentioned but at the same time he is in the position he is with Red Bull for a reason

19

Well done to Lewis Hamilton for winning the 2017 title and now being a 4 x WDC. Ok, he had a very good car but unlike ’14 through to ’16 it wasn’t as dominant in all tracks but through his skill he accumulated more poles and races wins and was pretty much untouchable. Fair play to him.

20

– Awesome drive by Max!
– Congratulations to Lewis!!
– And I wonder how Alonso and McLaren are feeling about those Renault engines now..?

21

A big congrats to Lewis on his 4th title and looking forward to 2018 shootout between Lewis and vettel for the 5th World title.

P. S: James, yesterday Lewis was humiliated with the blue flags waved at him probably after a very long time. Is it possible to know the last time he was blue flagged?

22

IIRC Spa 2014

23

Surya, they said in commentary that it was Barcelona 2013.

24

Forgot to add, my favourite part of Lewis’s 4th world championship was his really odd sprint out of the stadium, rounding Nigel Mansel Curve on top of the tech-pro barrier…then knocking over a man running backwards, who then took out another member of the chasing mob. It was an utterly brilliant moment of television, I was on my feet applauding 😀

I appreciate that FOM are trying to give fans more access to the paddock, but that seemed a little crazy at various points in the weekend lol.

The techno on the podium was terrible….and I’m not someone who hates techno and electronic music, but that was just, yuck. If I was there in person, nothing would have made me want to leave faster >.<

25

Please that wasn’t EVEN close to Techno just some hyped up trashy eletronic music! There’s plenty of great house and techno DJ’s that could have been there in place of that clown.
Mixing with two hands in the air is the same as a driving with two hands in the air! You are bound to crash!

26

@twitch
Couldn’t agree with you more about the Dj afterwards, ridiculous!

27

Congrats to Lewis, 4x WDC. A hard fought battle all year, he put in some really strong drives to bring this one home (not today though :P).

It a as definitely a season on two halves, with Merc coming strong in the second half as some predicted. Vettel also had a bit of a roller coaster ride in the second half, the pressure of winning a championship for Ferrari seemed to get to him, and to the team as well. Hopefully they come back stronger next year.

Max with a great move at the start, and then owned the race. This performance should send shivers down the pit lane….warmed by the fact Max will be powered by a Renault lol.

Seb looked clumsy in T2 and T3. He seemed to lose track of where his front wing was…

Ocon with another fantastic drive. Can’t wait to see him resume his battle with Max.

Stroll with a solid 6th. Every time I’m ready to write this kid off, he does something like this lol. I think Williams will be in a real dog-fight next year, he’ll need drives like this consistently.

Wtf is up with the Renaults?? They must be throwing the kitchen sink at it to get every drop of power and have really sacrificed reliability. Hopefully it’s a very short term thing….like it or not, we need them strong next year to prevent another 2 way title fight.

Hopefully it rains in Brazil, and Max & Lewis can have a good scrap in the wet.

28

Good comment Twitch.

29

Congratulations Lewis … to win it after being behind for so long and come out after summer almost unbeatable is a great effort by any measure. Some will say it was the car, and that may have been so for the past 3 years but not this year. Ferrari made it interesting and competitive, so much so that I believe this is far and away Lewis’s best championship win.
I’m in my 50s. My hero was Ayrton Senna.
The void that was left after he passed was huge for his loyal fans. I never stopped watching but I never liked or appreciated Michael, for various reasons, so when this super confident, super talented young black guy with the Senna colours on his helmet arrived at McLaren F1, singing the praises of is hero and dedicating himself to being as good as him one day, my F1 dedication was reignited.
As a true blue lad from Downunder, I will always back the Aussie in the field, no matter what! But Lewis has always made me feel a special connection to Senna. Like he is there at every race, sitting quietly by himself on a corner somewhere, watching Lewis keep his memory alive.
For that I will always be grateful and respect Lewis.
Thanks Lewis, it’ been a wild ride at times … but isn’t that what F1 is all about?
Hopefully our Honey Badger gets a shot at a title soon (at Ferrari so he can fight Lewis properly) and makes us as just proud as Lewis has made British F1 fans.
Break out the bubbly … CHEERS!

30

Great comment Jack,

31

What wonderful comments. There were points during 2010, 2011 when I feared that Ham would be a 1 time WDC..

32
Torchwood Mobile

Well done getting your report up so quickly after the race, James.

Sorry that you stopped enjoying the season after Ferarri’s mishaps.

33

It is not a question of that – I don’t care who wins

It’s about the tension going out of it

This is a sporting competition and the close competition was good while it lasted

I regret that it didn’t go all the way to Abu Dhabi

34

Not sure how much of HAM’s overtaking difficulty was due specifically to Merc’s aero issues following others and/or his engine being turned down as VET seemed to have fewer problems. I am sure most fans would trade the last word in aero for closer racing and more overtaking. It would also help curtail budgets if aero development was limited and/or key parts standardised. Ditto for MGU-H to extract the last % of efficiency. We want (and F1 needs) more battles like ALO/HAM throughout the field and the race.

35

I never really understand that thinking.

Usually during seasons where the title is decided the very fact that the leading drivers no longer have to tiptoe around for fear of dropping points or in these tonight years, where reliability is all, sets us up for a few no holds barred proper races with nothing to lose for anyone.

At least we then see some racing rather than clumsy moves or in defended overtakes.

We may even see some interesting pit strategies and engines being run to the full.

What’s not to like compared to say a title being decided by a bust engine? Following 65 laps of careful driving and non contested overtakes because it’s all about getting some points?

Just because it’s the last race?

36

But all were praying for a Vettel DNF when Hamilton could not close the gap.
Unfortunately when it happened people realised quickly what that meant.

37

THe championship battle with Vettel was compelling up to the day when Vettel crashed into Verstappen and Raikkonen in Singapore.

Just a small correction, Verstappen crashed into Raikonnen who crashed into Vettel.
Regardless of who’s fault it was, thats how it happened.

38

Exactly and it’s this type of reporting that has polarised F1.

39

Better this victory to clinch the championship, be it muted, over,/b> all the drama (and melodrama) of his first year in F1, and it causing him NOT to win the F1 championship in his first season!
Way to go; and it was an interesting ‘completing’ manner to clinch the championship.

The big caveat to Hamilton (the same must be said for Vettel also, in fuller truth), is the three championships (of four years) in the undeniably best car on the grid.
But, like I said, Raikonnen /Ferrari stole one when his team mate conspired to undermine the entire team to bully the team to clearly recognize him as “the number one”. (Raikonnen himself should have had at least 2 prior to 2007, including both of the Alonso championships benefitting from the mass damper).

So, anyhow, in the end, it’s a wash, and Hamilton earns the 4th WDC as fairly as it could be done.

Predictions:
1. look for Bottas ‘payback’ victories in the last two races.
2. look for Verstappen to have moved to a higher gear, totally NOT unnoticeable; he will be tough to beat! So, even with Mercedes’ full support, the second step may be the highest Bottas will be able to get for the last two.
3. look for a potential challenge from Kimi, as Ferrari also look to ‘show a little love’ for their own dedicated Finn soldier; a threat to win using the ‘Ice’ approach.
4. the other strong upwards trajectory accelerators are: Ocon (incredible, the ‘real’ thing), Sainz (he may have a similar tilt up as Verstappen, eerily; look for Carlos to challenge for a podium in at least one of the final two), Renault in general, including the Hulk, snatching 5th from TR at the wire, is a real possibility.
5. Mercedes announces that 2018 will be its final year (in this current stint/domination) as a factory manufacturer, and will be pulling back to engine supplier only, starting in 2019 season.
6. Likely another (though possibly closer) Hamilton/Merc championship in 2018, after the usual hype of (finally!) close competitiveness between several teams in pre-season testing, and the McLaren is beaten by the Honda-Toro Rosso. (ha ha!)

40

Interesting prediction on 2018. I guess that will all depend on those post 2020 rules. I don’t think they would announce it so early though. I think they would first go out there and steemroll the field. Then once done, they would drop the mic off season.

The only way to stop that next 3 years of PU era domination by Mercedes would be for Liberty/FIA to do the very thing Bernie spoke about Friday perhaps?

41

No dependence whatsoever on the 2020 rules.
Mercedes are beyond that.
They simply cannot make it even through the 2019 season (crushing everyone else) and have F1 maintain the adequate fan base to support their minimum required ROI for their F1 project!
Also… rules change means the pot may be stirred sufficiently for them to be knocked off their perch.
NO WAY! are they going to stay in the game to be one of the losers; they’ve established quite a remarkable record in F1, and there really is no compelling reason to risk it by staying at the party too long.
As you wrote before, FE domination awaits with loads of happy shareholders at their repeated wads of blown off ROI$$$.
Look for FE to gain credibility fast and move to a higher pressure development lab for electric automotive technology; well suitable for the Merc domination.
It may even be watchable as soon as 2019!
(but you never know).

We need to throw a party for patting each other on the back; what continent are you usually on?

Too bad about SV; I can’t see Ferr winning in this era/formula, re: the Merc-miles-ahead, fact of life.

42

Well done Lewis.

43

Well, it could have been worse. If Vettel succeeded in giving DNF to Hamilton, with this result, Hamilton would have celebrated from the garage. At least he completed race, executed couple of passes, including the hard fought one with Alonso and then celebrated. I’d say, it was deserving.

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