Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth world championship in the Mexican Grand Prix, despite only finishing ninth after a clash with title rival Sebastian Vettel at the first corner. Max Verstappen took a dominant win for Red Bull.
British racer Hamilton entered the event knowing that a fifth place finish would secure him the title, while Vettel had to finish second or better to keep his hopes alive.
Vettel had started the race from pole position in his Ferrari, with Verstappen alongside. The two battled for the lead heading into the first turn and clashed, allowing Hamilton to get a run on both. The Brit passed Vettel around the outside in the chicane, but the German slid wide and clipped Hamilton’s Mercedes, puncturing its rear tyre.
Hamilton had to limp back to the pits for new tyres, emerging in last place, and even found himself lapped by Verstappen. He then slowly worked his way up the order to take ninth place.
Vettel was also forced to pit for a new wing, and fought up through the field, but he could only make his way to fourth. That meant Hamilton clinched his fourth title, tying the number won by Alain Prost and setting a new benchmark for British drivers. Only seven-time winner Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) have won more championships.
"I had a good start, and I don't really know what happened at turn three, but I gave him [Vettel] room," said Hamilton. "It wasn't the kind of race that I wanted, but I never gave up."
Verstappen’s victory was his second of the season, and the third of his career. Valtteri Bottas was a distant second in his Mercedes, with Kimi Räikkönen third for Ferrari.