Lewis Hamilton crowned 2017 F1 world champion - after being lapped in Mexican Grand Prix
PUBLISHED: 20:45 29 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:55 30 October 2017
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Lewis Hamilton has won his fourth Formula One world title in bizarre fashion after being lapped in the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire suffered an early puncture in Mexico City after a collision with pole-sitter and title rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap.
That early pit stop for fresh rubber dropped world championship leader Hamilton to the back of the pack and ruined his chances of a podium result.
He was last after the opening lap but managed to claw his way back into the points in ninth place by the finish – and that was enough to take the crown.
Ferrari driver Vettel also had to pit early on for a new front wing, scuppering his chances of the top two spot he needed to keep alive his flickering title hopes.
Hamilton has now won the world title in 2008 for McLaren and for the Mercedes team in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Only Michael Schumacher, with seven titles, and Juan Manuel Fangio, with five, have won the drivers’ championship more times than former Stevenage schoolboy Hamilton.
Posting on Instagram, Hamilton wrote: “As a kid, I always dreamt of being in Formula 1. I never lost sight of that dream, even when people said it would be impossible.
“I stand here now with 4 World Championships and am proof that if you follow your dreams with everything you have, they can come true.
“I am so grateful to all 1,500 people in my team who all have a dream of making the best F1 car and tirelessly make that dream a reality.
“My fans, #TeamLH, I would not be here without you. You’ve carried me through adversity and shared my joy in moments such as these.
“Truly, thank you. We are all rising together and I am so excited for what our future brings together.”
Vettel and Hamilton’s early misfortune in Mexico left the way clear for Red Bull Racing star Max Verstappen to take the lead on lap one and the Dutchman subsequently stormed to the chequered flag in style.
Verstappen lapped Hamilton in the first half of the race – but the Silver Arrows man still claimed his fourth world title.
He is now the most successful British driver of all time with four drivers’ championships.
Born and raised in Stevenage, Hamilton joined Vettel and Alain Prost with four F1 titles, as the German Ferrari driver was unable to finish in the top two – the minimum he needed to take the championship race to the penultimate grand prix in Brazil.
As Verstappen cruised to victory at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Vettel carved through the field with a succession of fastest laps but couldn’t do enough to keep the title race alive.
Vettel crossed the finish line fourth, with Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Valtteri Bottas crucially second behind Verstappen and well ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in third.
Bottas’ second step on the podium ensured Vettel couldn’t deny former John Henry Newman School pupil Hamilton the drivers’ crown this weekend.
Running 10th, Hamilton, who grew up in Tewin after moving from Stevenage and raced karts at Rye House in Hoddesdon, hunted down Fernando Alonso in the closing laps and went wheel to wheel with the McLaren driver.
He eventually passed Alonso for ninth place after an almighty scrap – and that pass ended Vettel’s title dream as the German now had to win the grand prix to stay in the hunt.
That was never going to happen with Verstappen driving peerlessly out front and Bottas claiming another podium for constructors’ champions Mercedes.