Hamilton joins select club of drivers with 4 Championship titles

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Mexico, Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguezmx

Despite an unusual race, and finishing just 9th, Lewis Hamilton ended the title fight by sealing his fourth F1 World Championship at Mexico on Sunday. With his third title at Mercedes, the Briton joins Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel in the club-of-four.

The afternoon wasn't straightforward, as after getting clipped by Vettel out of Turn 3, Hamilton limped back to the pits with a puncture, dropping right to the back, but there followed a superb recovery drive, dicing with Fernando Alonso in the final laps to take ninth at the flag and secure his fourth world title - and Mercedes AMG's fourth consecutive Drivers' Championship. The team itself had already sealed the constructors' title 7 days earlier at the US GP in Austin.

"To be honest, this fourth world title is not even registering right now," said Lewis. "There is all this energy from the people around you, but it takes a while for it to really sink in.

"I feel incredibly grateful when I think about everything that has gone on this year and everything that had to be in place to produce this result."

Hamilton diligently went on to thank his team, whom provided him once again with a competitive car.

"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.

"I have received such great support from around the world, and I want to thank all of you that believed in me.

"To do this on Mexican soil, to shine a positive light on a country that has been through such a difficult time over the past few months, makes this really special.

"It doesn't matter what happened in the race today. I carry 'Still I Rise' on the back of my helmet - it means when you get knocked down, you get back up again and keep pushing as hard as you can. I never gave up, and I kept pushing. Four is a great number - but I want number five now!"

While both team and driver continued to hint at Vettel deliberately clipping Hamilton's rear tyre in various interviews, the official statements underlined the satisfaction that the verdict was decided in their advantage, despite a bit of a troubled first half of the season.

"This was the hardest championship ever, but it was also extremely well deserved," said Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Sporting Director.

"We had quite some up and downs this season with the new cars and tyres. We had to accept the fact that this is the reality now, and to progress was very difficult for the team and really took the maximum out of us.

"Lewis probably showed the best and most constant performance of his entire career this season, he has made a step forward in every respect and there is no doubt whatsoever that today the right man was crowned world champion today.

"While the result was good, the race was not what we had hoped for. But I'd like to just look at the positives today and not dig into a controversy that is not necessary at this stage - Lewis won the championship!"

With a fourth title in the bag, Hamilton can now aim to equal Juan Manuel Fangio's 5 titles. Michael Schumacher's record of 7 titles is perhaps a bit too far off to start thinking about yet.