The champagne and the big trophy in Mexico City went to Max Verstappen, the Dutchman driving an exemplary race to repeat his 2017 victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
But while it was a fifth race win for Verstappen, it was a fifth title win for Lewis Hamilton, the British driver’s fourth place enough to see him crowned champion with two races to go, becoming only the third ever driver, behind Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher, to claim five world championships.
Verstappen’s win was arguably the most polished of his career so far. He was incisive off the line to pip his pole-sitting team mate Daniel Ricciardo before enjoying a mostly lonely race out at the front of the field.
Sebastian Vettel knew that his chances of staying in the title hunt were minimal coming into the race. But despite putting in a fine performance – including executing a terrific move on Hamilton on lap 39 – to finish second, it wasn’t enough for Vettel to deny Hamilton.
The German inherited that second place after Ricciardo suffered his eighth DNF of the season, after his engine appeared to let go on lap 62. It was a cruel twist of fate for the Australian, who had himself looked a shoe-in to make his first ever podium appearance in Mexico City.
Vettel was joined on the podium by his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn having had a mostly quiet afternoon but doing enough to deny Hamilton a podium finish on his momentous title-winning day. That left the Mercedes boys to finish fourth and fifth, Hamilton ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Hamilton massively dropping his pace towards the race end to make it home safely and claim the championship.
Some fine midfield performances saw Nico Hulkenberg take sixth – good news for Renault on a day when Haas failed to score – Charles Leclerc finish seventh, while the beleaguered Stoffel Vandoorne was eighth to equal his best performance of the year.
But despite a crushing win for Verstappen to put Red Bull on top for the first time since Austria, the plaudits today have to go equally to Hamilton, the British driver now forming part of an exceptionally rare group of Formula 1 drivers. By F1