Verstappen wins Mexican GP but Hamilton takes 2017 championship title
Becomes the most successful British F1 driver in history
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The 2017 Mexican Grand Prix will long be remembered as the race that Max Verstappen dashed the hopes of Sebastian Vettel in his quest for a 5th world drivers title.
The four time champ, after an average showing in Austin a week before, had to win the remaining races if he wanted to keep his bid alive for the 2017 crown; anything less and Sebastian can kiss the season away. Qualifying saw Ferrari and Vettel begin the assault into the record books by stamping their dominance, and claiming pole at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez; Max Verstappen, even with a near flawless drive was no match for the Ferrari and could only muster P2. While Lewis Hamilton, who again failed to come to grips with his temperemental F1 W08, had to settle for P3. Valtteri Bottas lined up beside his team mate and Kimi Raikkonen with Esteban Ocon closing up the 3rd row. Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr., and hometown hero Sergio Perez rounded up the top 10.
At the start, Vettel got a good jump off the line with Max Verstappen following the Ferrari down the long run into turn 1. As the cars filed into the right hander, the Flying Dutchman went for the corner to squeeze the Ferrari wide, and grab the lead. Then the #33 Red Bull and #5 Ferrari touched, breaking off a few winglets from the nose of the Ferrari; as this was happening, Lewis, sensing the opportunity to join the fracass went wide left, only for Sebastian to clip his right rear tire as the Brit went past. The #44 Merc suffered a puncture, and Vettel a broken front wing. This dropped both protagonists down the order as they pitted for repairs and eventually re-joined in P19 and P20.While this was the worst possible way to start a championship deciding race, Hamilton knew full well that should Vettel fail to score or at least come in 2nd, then he would be crowned the 2017 champion.
Sebastian, with no other option but to go all out, tried with all his might to re-claim track position, but the Ferrari fell victim to the backmarkers. Vettel lost time in relation to Max and the rest of the front runners, giving Lewis, who also had his fair share of problems, just enough to retain the lead in the standings and eventually the championship.
Up in front, Max Verstappen was running on rails, the youngster didn’t make a mistake and even with a call from the pit wall to keep an eye on his engine, after 4 Renault powered cars broke down, Verstappen still kept on piling record lap times to keep Bottas behind in 2nd, and Raikkonen in 3rd, at bay. The Flying Dutchman was never challenged, and he had the pace to even lap the champion-elect Lewis Hamilton on lap 22. This pass didn’t go down well with the Brit, but, he knew that his only concern was that of Vettel not scoring enough points to allow him to prolong the fight. A 9th place finish would suffice for Hamilton.
Vettel sensing the title slip away, drove like a man possessed; passing with relative ease his rivals to go as far as P4, but, the front runners had such a comfortable lead that it was only a matter of time before the German ran out of laps to mount a challenge.
Max Verstappen crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the year, with Valtteri Bottas, who was 19 seconds adrift, and Kimi Raikkonen, who was a further 54 seconds back, closing up the remaining podium places.
Sebastian finished the race in 4th thus, giving Lewis, who took the flag in 9th place, albeit 1 lap down, just enough points to claim his 4th Formula 1 drivers title. Hamilton now joins the elite group of multiple champs Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost with 4 titles, Juan Manuel Fangio with 5, and Michael Schumacher with 7 championships.
Lewis Hamilton with his 62nd career win and 4th Driver’s title, now has the honor of being the most successful British driver in Formula 1 history