Ricciardo endures calamitous Mexico GP as Hamilton secures title

Virginia Santiago
November 1, 2018

Only Germany's Michael Schumacher has more with seven.

"He fought so hard this year", Hamilton said. "Fangio is the godfather and always will be".

Lewis Hamilton said on Saturday that he is wary of any possible contact with Sebastian Vettel at the start of Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix after the pair qualified together on the second row of the grid.

Verstappen said his auto didn't feel right despite fast times in Saturday morning practice and the early stages of qualifying. "I don't have any more words".

With the championship on his mind, and the opening three corners the biggest threat to his historic quest, a cautious Hamilton took no risks, decelerating faster than Verstappen, and who could blame him? He had to fight off a strong challenge from Ferrari, which even Hamilton admitted often had the stronger vehicle.

The Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished in second and third place. I'm not superstitious or any of that. but the car's cursed.

After a strong start from Hamilton, leap-frogging Ricciardo to slot in behind Verstappen for second, his race soon began to unravel.

Hamilton could afford to back off because all he had to do to finish no worse than seventh to win the championship.

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Hamilton's title triumph was watched by a sell-out 135,000 crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with the Mexican race proving a runaway hit since it returned to the calendar in 2015.

Hamilton's victory parade will now begin in Brazil, a week on Sunday.

He lost his pole position lead with a bad getaway, and on Lap 61, his RB14 sprouted a thin trail of smoke, prompting the team to retire his vehicle the following lap. He said he was in such shock he couldn't believe it, and produced an epic one liner in his post race interview. And just, things are happening on a Sunday which I have no more explanation for.

Although he ended the day with the drivers' title, it was not a race Hamilton will look back on fondly. Red Bull have only ever sealed pole at the high-downforce Monaco and Mexico tracks in the power-friendly hybrid era. But pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo was beaten off the line by Verstappen and Hamilton.

Verstappen held provisional pole after the first runs in Q3 but failed to improve on his second lap and was pipped to pole by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. The straight line power of his nosed his auto in front until Verstappen cut under him at the first corner.

Verstappen wasn't giving any ground.

"It is not easy today but well deserved for him and I want to congratulate Lewis".

Hamilton's primary goal was to avoid trouble. Last year, a bump from Vettel at the first turn punctured a tire which relegated him to ninth.

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"Naturally I'm going to keep racing, I love doing what I do and the fans really help".

"I knew the pace was in the auto - Max showed that all weekend - I just knew it was putting together a clean lap at the end". Their teams are still battling for the constructor's championship. They did a superb job all year.

"The frustration for us as a Team is that we didn't have both drivers on the podium".

"I've been with Mercedes since I was 13 so to complete this - Fangio had done it with Mercedes - it's an incredible feeling and very surreal at the moment".

The 800-yard dash to the opening bend is the longest on the calendar and past year Vettel collided with Hamilton at the third bend.

Mercedes technical director James Allison said Hamilton's driving in 2018 had been "peerless". "The pressure that he would be under. that's a lot to ride on one's shoulders".

Lewis Hamilton is world champion for a fifth time.

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