Friday 19 July 2019

Hamilton eyes Schumacher's record after securing fifth title

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton. Photo: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images

Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton was yesterday crowned Formula One world champion for a fifth time, despite stuttering over the line in fourth at an incident-packed Mexican Grand Prix.

The 33-year-old Mercedes star has drawn level with Juan Manuel Fangio, and is just two short of Michael Schumacher's record, but in a dramatic race, won by Max Verstappen, he ran off the road while defending third place from Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton, who needed to finish only seventh at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to beat Sebastian Vettel to the title with two rounds to spare, spent much of the race at odds with his Mercedes team as he struggled for pace. But, just as in Mexico City last year, Hamilton did enough to win the championship, his fourth in five quite remarkable years. Ferrari's Vettel finished second.

"It's a very strange feeling right now," Hamilton said as he got out of his car and celebrated.

"I have been at Mercedes since I was 13 so to complete the title, and Fangio won two championships with Mercedes, is an incredible feeling. It feels very surreal."

Hamilton also paid tribute to his dad, Anthony, and the rest of his family, adding: "To my family back home, I love you, and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all the hard work that my father did. It is a great moment."

While there may be 22pc 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. Starting in third, he was the fastest out of his marks, and cut through the middle of Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen to momentarily take the lead on the 220mph, 900-yard charge to the first braking zone.

With the championship on his mind, and the opening three corners the biggest threat to his historic quest, a cautious Hamilton took no risks.

After some tyre issues, Hamilton just made sure he got his car over the line, and was promoted one place after Ricciardo's engine blew up with 10 laps remaining.

Verstappen claimed a dominant win ahead of Vettel - too little too late by the German.

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