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