There’s nothing else that Lewis Hamilton wanted more than to seal his fourth world championship title with a win at the Mexican Grand Prix. Unfortunately for him, by the time he exited turn three with a puncture, it was off the agenda. The incident, however, showed how badly he wanted to fight for the victory, despite not needing it to secure the championship.
“My thought process when I started racing was to make it into F1. Once in F1 the goal was to win the championship. After winning the first title, I was thankful for what I had, because most drivers don’t ever make it to a title win. After winning the second, I had the same thought of being thankful. Then I had the third and now I have the fourth — and still have the same thought process.”
He had been three abreast with Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel going into turn one but recognized that continuing to do so would not end well and allowed them to go together through the corner.
They duly touched giving him the chance to go up the inside of two and the space to go in front through three. He had played the percentages and looked to be coming out on top until Vettel clipped him and the race changed.
Hamilton had checked to allow for Verstappen’s compromised exit and Vettel, it seemed, had not reacted swiftly enough. He was told that Vettel could not make second place — the minimum needed to keep the title fight alive but Hamilton was unwilling to leave anything to chance. He had a broken diffuser but made eight overtakes on seven drivers, including a climactic battle with Fernando Alonso to take ninth — ensuring that even second would not be enough for Vettel. And that’s exactly what’s called title-winning determination.
“It doesn’t feel real,” said Hamilton. “I’m really happy with this fourth. I’m going to have to take some time to really think about it but I’m proud of the flag and everyone who represents it. That’s not the kind of race that you want but I never gave up.”
Hamilton’s feat makes him the most successful British driver in Formula 1 history and draws the Mercedes driver level with Vettel and Alain Prost in the all-time standings.