Lewis Hamilton has won a fifth F1 World Championship title, making him the joint second most successful driver of all time.
The Englishman becomes the third man in history to win five world titles, matching Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio and only two titles behind all-time record holder Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton only needed to finish seventh at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday to become champion, even if Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had won – however, the German managed a second place finish behind the dominant Max Verstappen.
The race was a daunting task for the Mercedes driver, who battled tyre problems throughout, but his finishing position just off the podium, in fourth, was more than enough to seal the biggest achievement of an illustrious career.
At the end of the race, Hamilton pushed his car through a series of celebratory ‘doughnut’ spins in the track’s stadium section, before waving to the 135,000 capacity crowd.
Hamilton said: “It is a very strange feeling right now. This was won through a lot of hard work through a lot of races. I am so grateful for all the hard work, for everyone who has been a part of it.
“To complete this, when Fangio has done it with Mercedes, it is an incredible moment.
“It was a horrible race. I got a great start and was working my way up and I really don’t know what happened after that. I was just trying to hold on and bring the car home.”
Vettel broke off from his post-race interview to congratulate Hamilton, as the two men embraced at the conclusion of a titanic battle.
The Ferrari driver said: “Well deserved. Congrats to him and his team. They did a superb job all year – we need to stand there and accept that. We would have loved to hang in there a bit longer but that wasn’t the case.”
However, Hamilton and Mercedes were well below the high standards they set for themselves as they won six out of seven races from the German Grand Prix in late July to the Japanese race in early October.
But that run, and the consistent excellence that both pressured Vettel and Ferrari into their mistakes and won races through the highest quality driving and teamwork – had put Hamilton into a comfortable position.