Vettel leads tributes as Hamilton wins fifth title

Dean Simpson
November 1, 2018

Hamilton ultimately won the title at Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix having finished finished third in Texas.

While the race here may not have gone to script for Hamilton, Vettel has been unable to live with his rival during the second half of a spellbinding campaign by the Mercedes man. Starting third on the grid Hamilton admitted to enduring "a horrible" race but was all smiles after taking fourth to Vettel's second behind Max Verstappen to spark wild celebrations as he joined Juan Manuel Fangio with his fifth world title.

Vettel, needing to win to keep his hopes alive, was gracious in defeat, hugging Hamilton as the two greats shared a moment.

But, just as in Mexico City a year ago, Hamilton, who needed to finish only seventh to be sure of the title, did enough to take the spoils, clinching his fourth championship in five quite remarkable seasons.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 3.

But Hamilton insisted the Austrian team's cars had still been out of reach in the pole shoot-out. Their teams are still battling for the constructor's championship.

Since he announced his shock move from Red Bull to Renault for 2019, his results have made for sorry reading: DNF, DNF, 6th, 6th, 4th, DNF, DNF.

"Does it mean I have to play safe at the beginning of the race?"

He was also the victor of this race when Hamilton clinched his fourth world title in 2017.

However, in the 13 races since, he hasn't even been able to bag a podium, and is now 70 points behind Verstappen in the drivers' standings.

After finishing third in Mexico City, Sebastian Vettel cut short his on-track interview with Sky Sports pundit David Coulthard in order to speak to Hamilton.

The Dutch driver has two wins this season and five podium finishes in the last seven races. Vettel hasn't won since the Belgian Grand Prix in August.

"All eyes have been on Verstappen, he's dominated all the sessions but when it mattered most, Ricciardo delivered", racing expert Martin Brundle said. "I'm just praying for a smooth and safe race".

But a Ferrari resurgence of late only worsens the frustration of a championship lost.

And Mercedes has seemed to slip back the last two weeks.

While there may be 22 per cent less oxygen here at the high-altitude Mexico City venue, some 2,200 metres above sea level, Hamilton kept his cool on a manic stampede to the opening bend.

Vettel portrayed a crestfallen figure on Sunday night, and there can be little denying that the reputation of a driver, one which can boast 52 wins and four championships, has taken a severe battering.

After the finish, Vettel got out of his auto and approached Hamilton to congratulate him.

"He drove superb all year. He was the better one of us two", Vettel said. "Five (championships) is something incredible".

The rivalry within the Red Bull ranks has not escaped Vettel's attention either.

"He fought so hard this year", Hamilton said.

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