MEXICO CITY — Though the race may not have gotten off to the auspicious start he’d hoped for, Lewis Hamilton’s stellar comeback effort during Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez was still more than enough to put him in rarefied air by the finish.
Hamilton’s ninth-place result, after contact with Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap left him with a flat tire, combined with a fourth-place finish by Vettel officially clinched the Briton’s fourth-career Formula 1 World Championship.
“To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now,” Hamilton said. “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.”
Hamilton becomes the fifth driver in Formula 1 history to win at least four driver’s titles, joining Vettel (4), Alain Prost (4), Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and the legendary Michael Schumacher (7).
He also eclipses Sir Jackie Stewart to become the most-decorated British champion in the history of the sport.
And in a season where his fellow Mercedes man Valtteri Bottas said, “The right man won the title this year,” Hamilton truly has been a cut above the rest.
Through 18 of 20 races, Hamilton leads the championship in every major statistical category, boasting nine wins, 12 podium finishes, 11 poles, 512 laps led, an average starting position of 2.8 and an average finishing position of 2.7.
With two rounds still remaining, if he can reach the top step of the podium once more, Hamilton will have won 10 or more Grands Prix in four consecutive seasons — a feat that none of his fellow quadruple-or-greater world champions ever completed.
But none of that mattered to Hamilton on Sunday. What mattered was celebrating the people that have helped lift him to the pinnacle of world motorsport and built him into one of the greatest Formula 1 racers in history.
Much of that credit, said Hamilton, is deserved by Mercedes.
The German automaker has powered all four of his Formula 1 titles, as McLaren received their engines from Mercedes when Hamilton won his first crown in 2007, and has been the team behind him for each of his last three championships in 2014, 2015 and again this year.
“Mercedes signed me when I was 13, alongside McLaren, and obviously I had exceptional years with McLaren,” Hamilton recalled. “That was a very, very special time there, and will always have a special place in my heart. Meeting Ron (Dennis) when I was 10, telling him that one day I wanted to be a world champion in his car, and him giving me that opportunity … wherever he is today I hope he knows how grateful I am for that.”
“Then moving to this team which was obviously such a … people through it was a big risk, and gamble, but I had every belief in my heart … a 100 percent belief in my heart that it was the right thing to do. Even if in the beginning it may have been difficult, I knew at some stage we would have this kind of success. It’s really weird how I had that. And then just to see the team grow. It’s trickled down from the top, with great bosses, great board members who support the team one hundred per cent. So to everyone back in Stuttgart, a big, big thank you.”
And while Hamilton said he’s ready to chase his fifth title next year, he wants to soak in the spoils of a fourth before that journey begins.
“Four is a great number. I want number five now,” Hamilton said. “I’m going to stick with four, and certainly enjoy number four … but I think, you know, you just have to take things one step at a time.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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