British racer Lewis Hamilton secured his fifth Formula 1 World Championship title – his fourth in the past five years – with a fourth-place finish in the Mexican Grand Prix.
The Mercedes-AMG driver went into the event knowing that seventh place would secure the title, while Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel needed to win. Despite a strong start, Hamilton struggled with his tyres in the race and could finish only fourth.
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen took a comfortable race win, while Vettel battled hard to take second.
Hamilton said he had mixed feelings taking the title after what he admitted was a “horrible” race where he was just “trying to hold on and bring the car home”.
But he added: “I don’t really allow myself to be too emotional in public, but I feel very, very humbled by the whole experience. It’s something that I dreamed of, but never in a million years did I think I’d be standing here today as a five-time world champion.”
Hamilton, 33, has now tied Juan Manuel Fangio for second place on the all-time list with five championships, behind only seven-time winner Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton secured his first title driving for McLaren-Mercedes in 2008, in only his second season in the sport. He switched to the works Mercedes squad for 2013 and took his second title in 2014. He has won four of the past five titles and only narrowly missed out to team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016.
While Hamilton has benefitted from having a dominant car most years since 2014, he faced a strong challenge this year from Ferrari’s Vettel. The four-time champion led Hamilton by eight points after ten races of this year’s 21 races, but Hamilton then put in a stunning run of form, including four wins in a row – while Vettel was involved in a number of incidents – to build a substantial points lead.
Hamilton could have secured the title at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but a strategy error meant he finished third behind Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and Red Bull’s Verstappen.
Unusually, Hamilton has secured three of his five championships without finishing on the podium in the securing race, and his fourth place in Mexico ended a run of nine consecutive podiums. With two races remaining, Hamilton has secured nine race wins this season, giving him a total of 71 for his career. That puts him second on the all-time winners list, behind Schumacher, who has 91.
Hamilton has also claimed 132 podium finishes and a record 81 pole positions. He has also secured a multi-year agreement to stay at Mercedes, giving him the opportunity to add to those totals in the years to come.