Hamil­ton, Bri­tain’s best

Mercedes driver be­comes most suc­cess­ful Bri­tish F1 racer with 4th cham­pi­onship ti­tle

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

Lewis Hamil­ton grabbed the Bri­tish Union Jack for a “vic­tory” lap, and then draped it over his shoul­ders. There was no way he was go­ing to let it go.

Hamil­ton won his fourth ca­reer For­mula One cham­pi­onship on Sun­day with a ninth-place fin­ish at the Mex­i­can Grand Prix, a rare fin­ish away from the podium but one good enough to win a ti­tle that makes him the most dec­o­rated Bri­tish driver in his­tory.

“It’s been a long jour­ney,” said Hamil­ton, who won his first cham­pi­onship in 2008. “This week I’ve been rem­i­nis­cent of where I came from, dream­ing of be­ing in For­mula One.”

None of it came easy on Sun­day in a race where he had to over­come a first-lap tire punc­ture and scram­ble to fin­ish off ti­tle ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel of Fer­rari.

It was a bump from Vet­tel shortly af­ter the start that made an ex­pected ti­tle more stress­ful than any­one at Mercedes ex­pected.

The ninth-place fin­ish was Hamil­ton’s worst of the sea­son, but it also closed out Vet­tel with two races left.

“Not the race you wanted, but who cares?” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff ra­dioed Hamil­ton af­ter the race.

Not Hamil­ton.

He passed Jackie Ste­wart for the most cham­pi­onships won by a Bri­tish driver. For­mula One’s first and only black driver also joined Vet­tel and Alain Prost as four­time winners. Only Ar­gentina’s Juan Miguel Fan­gio (five) and Ger­many’s Michael Schu­macher (seven) have won more.

Hamil­ton also passed his idol, Brazil’s Ary­ton Senna, who won three cham­pi­onship ti­tles be­fore he was killed in a crash and is still con­sid­ered one of the most skilled driv­ers in F1 his­tory.

“It’s crazy to think I con­tinue to put the Hamil­ton stamp, the Hamil­ton name, in the his­tory books. Beyond my time there will be kids that read my name,” Hamil­ton said.

Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen got the win in Mex­ico for his third ca­reer vic­tory and sec­ond this sea­son.

Vet­tel made it an ad­ven­ture for ev­ery­one.

The race be­gan on a fu­ri­ous note, with Ver­stap­pen get­ting the edge through the first turn and Hamil­ton mak­ing a move to get past Vet­tel, who drifted left. Vet­tel’s left front wing clipped Hamil­ton’s right rear tire, dam­ag­ing both cars and forc­ing both driv­ers to the pits for re­pairs.

—AFP

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