An ecstatic Lewis Hamilton became Britain’s first four-times Formula One world champion on Sunday after fighting back from last place following an opening-lap collision with arch-rival Sebastian Vettel at the Mexican Grand Prix.
In a race won by 20-year-old Dutch prodigy Max Verstappen, in a Red Bull, the 32-year-old Mercedes driver finished ninth to cement his place as his country’s most successful driver of all time.
Vettel, the only man who could have delayed the seemingly inevitable, ended up fourth after starting on pole position and then dropping to 19th following a pitstop to replace a broken front wing.
Hamilton has an unassailable lead of 56 points with two races, worth a total of 50, remaining in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“It doesn’t feel real. That’s not the kind of race that you want but I never gave up. I kept going right to the end,” said a jubilant Hamilton, the British flag proudly draped over his shoulders.
He had raised both hands to his helmet as he took the chequered flag, with the crowd rising to applaud.
“Lewis has done a superb job all year and deserves to win the title,” said Vettel. “Congratulations to him. It is his day.”