Lewis Hamilton hailed the ‘incredible work’ of the people back in Brackley for their part in his success after the Mercedes driver clinched his fourth World Championship title, putting him among the sport’s greatest ever drivers.
Hamilton overcame early drama in Mexico on Sunday to wrap up his latest title, making him the most successful ever F1 driver from these shores while now only two men - Michael Schumacher (7) and Juan Manuel Fangio (5) - stand above him on the all-time list.
The race itself did not unfold how Hamilton might have foreseen. Starting third, the championship leader collided with chief rival Sebastian Vettel on lap one, forcing both to pit and drop to the back, while eventual race winner Max Verstappen cruised away from the chasing pack for an easy win.
Hamilton and Vettel were left scrapping to get back into the points and though the Ferrari man stormed through the field to take fourth, Hamilton’s top 10 finish stretched his overall lead to 56 points, an unassailable advantage with only two races of 2017 to go.
It was not the way Hamilton would have wanted to mark such a landmark occasion – finishing ninth described as ‘horrible’ by the man himself – but there can be no denying the validity of his achievements, which now rank him among the best the sport has ever seen.
“I didn’t do this on my own, there are over a thousand people back in Brackley and Brixworth who have created this beast that has given me the opportunity to exploit my abilities,” he said after the race.
“A big thank you to my family and my team. Mercedes have been incredible over the last five years and I am so proud to be a part of it.
“I never gave up. It was not the race I wanted but I kept going right to the end.”
Hamilton’s dreams of winning the title on Sunday were damaged on the opening lap after his car suffered a puncture following a collision with Vettel’ s Ferrari and despite struggling to scythe back through the pack, ninth position was good enough to his third title in four years, and move him one win ahead of legendary three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart.
As for the rest, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas took second while Esteban Ocon added to his collection of impressive performances this season with fifth for Force India, two places above home favourite Sergio Perez.
Perez said: “Wow. This was an amazing Grand Prix experience, the track was at capacity and it really was very special.”
The Toro Rosso cars finished outside of the points. Pierre Gasly took his Renault-powered car to 13th while Brendon Hartley retired.
Two races remain in 2017, and who would bet against Hamilton winning both to round out his season in grand style? “I am having a great time and I am loving my driving at the moment,” he added.