Lewis Hamilton now wants fifth F1 world title
PUBLISHED: 10:29 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:19 30 October 2017
Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG
Lewis Hamilton sealed his fourth world title in dramatic fashion in Mexico on Sunday to become Britain's most successful Formula One driver in history.
Despite only finishing ninth in the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix, the 32-year-old Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire did enough to clinch a fourth drivers’ championship.
That saw him overtake Sir Jackie Stewart in the all-time list and pull level with Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost with four F1 crowns.
Only Michael Schumacher, with seven, and Juan Manuel Fangio, with five, have won more titles than Hamilton.
Lewis has now set his sights on title number five.
He said: “Four is a great number – but I want number five now!”
The Stevenage-born Silver Arrows star entered Sunday’s race 66 points ahead of nearest rivals Sebastian Vettel – and the two clashed on the opening lap, forcing both to pit early.
Hamilton’s puncture, limp back to the pits and subsequent stop for tyres sent him to the back of the field.
But that first-lap collision also effectively ended Vettel’s hopes of a podium, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen cruised to victory in Mexico.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished second – his best ever result at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Vettel charged through the field from second from last to finish fourth, but it wasn’t enough to keep his faint title hopes alive.
Before the start, he needed to finish in the top two at least to take the title race to Brazil in a fortnight’s time.
Hamilton’s recovery to ninth place meant Vettel had to win in Mexico to stand any chance of depriving the former Stevenage schoolboy his place in the sport’s pantheon of all-time greats.
The Mercedes man leaves Mexico with an unassailable 56-point advantage over Vettel with just two races remaining in the 2017 season.
Afterwards Hamilton said: “To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now.
“There is all this energy from the people around you, but it takes a while for it to really sink in.
“I am incredibly grateful when I think about everything that was going on this year and everything that had to be in place to produce this result.
“I didn’t do this on my own, there are over a thousand people back in Brackley and Brixworth who have created this beast that has given me the opportunity to exploit my abilities.
“I have received such great support from around the world, and I want to thank all of you that believed in me.
“To do this on Mexican soil, to shine a positive light on a country that has been through such a difficult time over the past few months, makes this really special.
“It doesn’t matter what happened in the race today. I carry ‘Still I Rise’ on the back of my helmet – it means when you get knocked down, you get back up again and keep pushing as hard as you can.
“I never gave up, and I kept pushing. Four is a great number – but I want number five now!”
After winning his fourth drivers’ championship, bookies William Hill make Lewis Hamilton a 4/1 shot to be knighted in the New Year’s Honours List.
“After moving clear of Sir Jackie Stewart in numbers of Drivers’ Championships, Lewis Hamilton cannot be far away from earning the knighthood himself,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
William Hill has also cut the price of Lewis winning this year’s BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year from 8/1 to 11/2 after Anthony Joshua’s relatively routine victory on Saturday night and Hamilton’s championship win on Sunday. Joshua has drifted from 1/3 to 2/5.
“Despite his continued success on a global level, Hamilton has only picked up the Sports Personality of the Year once, but his odds for this year’s are tumbling and it looks very likely he could well pick up an honour from the Queen as well come the New Year,” added William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
Hamilton is also 15/8 to win next year’s F1 championship, with Vettel 3/1 and Verstappen 10/3.
Silver Arrows colleague Bottas praised Hamilton’s latest achievement following his previous title wins in 2008, 2014 and 2015.
After his 20th podium place in Formula One, Bottas said: “The right man won the title this year, Lewis absolutely deserves this!
“He’s my team-mate, so I know he’s not only talented, but also a hard worker, and a really nice guy.
“So even though we’re competing, I’m also happy for him – but I still want to beat him next year.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was delighted for Lewis after overtaking Vettel in the second half of the season.
“This was the hardest championship ever, but it was also extremely well deserved,” said Wolff.
“We had quite some up and downs this season with the new cars and tyres.
“We had to accept the fact that this is the reality now, and to progress was very difficult for the team and really took the maximum out of us.
“Lewis probably showed the best and most constant performance of his entire career this season, he has made a step forward in every respect and there is no doubt whatsoever that today the right man was crowned world champion.
“While the result was good, the race was not what we had hoped for.
“But I’d like to just look at the positives today and not dig into a controversy that is not necessary at this stage – Lewis won the championship!”
Mercedes technical director James Allison felt Hamilton’s fourth title was “richly deserved”.
He said: “We knew that the championship arithmetic favoured us going into this race.
“But that didn’t mean that it was a comfortable afternoon after the melee of the first corner – either for us sitting on the pit wall with all the information at our fingertips, but much more for Lewis, who had the lonely task of picking his way back through the field from stone-cold last.
“In truth, as long as the front stayed reliable, this looked like Lewis was safe throughout, especially since Valtteri drove very capably, holding down a very assured second place.
“But you can’t rely on that and so we were very keen to get Lewis up into ninth place and it was an amazing achievement for him to do that at this track which is so difficult to overtake at.”
After having secured the Constructors’ World Championship last week in Austin, Texas, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (595 points) now lead Ferrari (455 points) by 140 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
Allison added: “It’s a great feeling for us after sealing up the Constructors’ Championship last week to come here and finish the championship that the rest of the world really cares about, and to make sure that Lewis was crowned champion for the fourth time.
“It’s hard to imagine a season where the champion has more richly deserved the spoils.
“It’s been a brilliant, competitive, inspiring year of motorsport and Lewis has been the one constant throughout. We couldn’t be happier for him.”