Hamilton takes the coveted crown in Mexico
Brought to you from our Guest Sports Writer – Jason Coulter
Although he did not win the championship the way he wanted to, there is no denying Lewis Hamilton deserved to take the driver’s crown in Mexico.
Securing his fourth world title means he has become the most celebrated British Formula One driver in history, just ahead of the Scottish legend Jackie Stewart. It also means the Mercedes driver equals Sebastian Vettel’s tally of four world titles, meaning both will be desperate to make it to five next year. But for now, let us bask in the glory that is Lewis Hamilton.
The Mexican GP
It was a difficult, awkward race for both the Briton and his main rival Vettel. The pair touched on the third corner forcing both to stop for new tyres and a new nose respectively. It hampered Hamilton much more and sent him right to the back of the pack, while Vettel sneaked ahead of Carlos Sainz and Pascal Wehrlein. Adversity has never deterred Hamilton before, however the Mexican Grand Prix is a track more reminiscent of Monaco than Interlagos. The track’s high altitude forces each team to drive with maximum downforce, and the thin air means this downforce is only 80% effective. Long story short, it is very hard to follow another car at close proximity. Overtaking requires immense patience and skill.
But, world champions are made of much metal more than you or I. Vettel traipsed his way to a respectable fourth while Hamilton – stuck behind Renault driver Sainz for most of the race, who in turn was stuck behind the slow Wehrlein, laboured his way to ninth. It was enough. He would rather have won the championship while also winning the grand prix, but in truth he had already proven himself a worthy champion throughout the season.
Hamilton versus Vettel
It was the first time in this hybrid engine era the Mercedes team were seriously challenged. Ferrari had made huge improvements after consistently underperforming in recent years, and at one stage it looked like Vettel could leave Hamilton trailing in the standings. But the trio of Asian grand prixs beginning in September were to be the Italian team’s downfall.
The problems began in Singapore where a disastrous collision between Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen before they had even reached the first corner put the latter two drivers out, while just a few corners later a damaged Vettel crashed into the wall. Victory was handed to Hamilton on a plate.
Following that, engine problems meant Vettel had to start from the back of the grid in Malaysia, with teammate Raikkonen failing to start the race at all. In Suzuka a week later, Vettel retired on the fourth lap with a spark plug failure.
It all gave Hamilton plenty of breathing room in the championship and with victory in Texas the title was all but secured.
It is a welcome relief for the British driver. Reliability dogged his 2016 season as Nico Rosberg stole his crown, but with 2018 shaping up to be the tightest in years, the celebrations should be enjoyed while they last.
2017 – Ferrari improve but Hamilton dominates
This season will be remembered as the year Ferrari returned to having a genuinely quick car, yet they could still not take away Hamilton’s shine. Ultimately he has been the fastest man on the grid, showing the kind of raw pace that will see him add to his four world titles sooner rather than later. Only Juan Manuel Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) can boast more, but Lewis Hamilton has the determination and talent to match – perhaps even better – these racing icons.
Hamilton remains in the best car so the only direct comparison can be made with his teammate Valterri Bottas who has struggled to keep up. Next year should provide us with at least three teams with realistic title aspirations – Hamilton’s toughest fight is still to come.
He is well up for it.
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