Olli Meek reflects on the FA Cup third round fixtures, with Arsenal crashing out to add to Arsene Wenger's woes.Written by Olli Meek on 13th January 2018
Lewis Equals The Greats: Hamilton Secures 4th World Drivers’ Championship
Sport writer David Garbutt reviews Lewis Hamilton's fourth World Drivers' Championship
Lewis Hamilton cemented himself as one of Formula One's all-time greats following his fourth World Championship win of his career; he now joins Prost and Vettel with four Championship wins, with just Fangio (five) and Schumacher (seven) winning more than the Brit since Formula One began in 1950.
Hamilton arrived in Mexico knowing that the World Drivers' Championship was his to lose, as finishing higher than fifth would secure the championship regardless of Vettel's actions, whilst if Vettel finished lower than second the title would also go to Lewis. Despite this, after lap 1 it looked like the World Championship was going to allude the Brit this time round as Vettel, who started on pole, managed to collide with Hamilton, puncturing his tyre, whilst Vettel suffered front-wing damage. Although Hamilton asked his team whether Vettel had crashed into him on purpose, on reflection this didn't look like the case as the clash arguably hurt Vettel more as he knew that he had to finish in the top two to have any chance of prolonging his title bid.
“Lewis Hamilton cemented himself as one of Formula One's all-time greats
Following their coming together, both Vettel and Hamilton came into the pits, coming out 18th and 20th respectively. This left Verstappen, who had brilliantly overtaken Vettel in the first corner having started second on the grid, to lead the race, with Bottas second. From here, Verstappen could continue his fine driving form to pull away easily from Bottas to lead comfortably, and from this point on a Verstappen win never seemed in doubt.
Meanwhile, both Vettel and Hamilton tried to make their way through the field, but they found their progress quite heavy going, despite their cars being much faster than those at the back of the field. This was largely because of the thin atmosphere at the track due to the race taking place at high altitude. As the air is much thinner at this race than all the others, the impact of slipstreams and DRS is greatly reduced, hence overtaking becomes almost impossible. In fact, Hamilton had admitted the day before that overtaking was only possible if a car was 1.4 seconds a lap faster than the car in front. Hence, whilst Vettel managed to slowly make his way through the field, reaching eighth by lap 32, Hamilton was very unlucky to come out the pits behind Carlos Saiz's Renault, which was nowhere near 1.4 seconds slower than the Mercedes. Consequently, Hamilton was still at the back of the field until lap 28, by which point he had already been lapped by Verstappen.
On lap 32 Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso caught fire, resulting in a Virtual Safety Car, which prompted Hamilton and Vettel to pit again, with Hamilton finding himself in sixteenth place and Vettel in eighth. At the front, Verstappen was still comfortably holding off Bottas whilst Raikkonen was clear in third place.
“Hamilton, although being slightly disappointed that he hadn't sealed the Championship in style by winning the race, was overjoyed as well as overwhelmed by his achievement
As the laps ticked down, Vettel managed to move all the way up to fourth, but this was still not good enough for the German - who needed to finish in at least second to prolong his title hopes. Meanwhile, Hamilton had managed to claim ninth following a terrific battle with Fernando Alonso on lap 69, and by this point he must have been aware that the title was his.
Despite Verstappen claiming another hugely impressive victory to demonstrate that he will be challenging for World Championships before too long, all eyes were on the car coming home in ninth as Hamilton claimed his fourth World Championship to huge adulation from the vociferous Mexican fans, Toto Wolf, the team principal, Niki Lauda, Mercedes' non-executive chairman, and most surprisingly of all Neymar Jnr.
During his post-race interview in front of the Mexican fans it was clear the Hamilton, although being slightly disappointed that he hadn't sealed the Championship in style by winning the race, was overjoyed as well as overwhelmed by his achievement. Not only had he joined the realms of Formula One greatness, he had also become the most successful British Formula One driver ever. Surely, then, it won't be too long before we talk about Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Despite the Constructors' and the Drivers' Championships now being all sewn-up, the season continues for two more races in Brazil (10-12 Nov) and Abu Dhabi (24-26 Nov).