Max Verstappen took a convincing race win in Mexico as Hamilton secured his fourth world title despite finishing a lap down after a first lap clash with Sebastian Vettel that put them both way down the order. Hamilton suffered a puncture with Vettel having to replace his front wing.
Both drivers battled back to the points with Vettel in fourth and Hamilton in ninth but it was not enough to change the outcome of what looked like a foregone conclusion at the beginning of the day but put in doubt after the first lap collision. Verstappen also maintained his peculiar record of winning every race after Daniil Kvyat has been dropped, taking his win tally to 3.
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas took his first podium position in three races, doing his job to backup his teammate in what was a lonely race for the Finn, unable to challenge Verstappen ahead and not under any threat from Kimi Raikkonen behind. Raikkonen made it a double Finnish podium who was untroubled after he jumped the Force India's and the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg by pitting under virtual safety car.
Esteban Ocon took his joint best finish of his career in fifth place, but could count himself unlucky after running in third before the pitstops and on another day may have been able to hang on to grab his first ever podium if the virtual safety car had not come out. The other Force India of Sergio Perez will also surely be disappointed to only finish seventh and again behind his teammate in his home race for the third season in a row.
Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen were both the big beneficiaries of the Virtual safety car with both having a slice of luck to help them both to sixth and eighth respectively and taking extremely valuable points on a weekend where that looked very difficult for both teams and will no doubt help both Haas and Williams in their respective constructors battles.
Fernando Alonso took a rare point for McLaren rounding out the top ten and will no doubt be extremely pleased with his battle with championship winner Lewis Hamilton over ninth in the dying laps of the races, putting up a valiant defence in his underpowered car before eventually succumbing to the now four time world champion.
The big winner at the start was clearly Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman bravely going around the outside of pole sitter Sebastian Vettel in the first corner. This move wrong footing the Ferrari driver putting him briefly behind Lewis Hamilton before the two championship rivals came together with both having to pit at the end of the first lap to for a new front wing and to repair a puncture respectively.
This left Valtteri Bottas in second position and Esteban Ocon up to a brilliant third place, and well positioned to perhaps take a maiden podium with only Raikkonen of the usual front runners within touching distance of his Force India, with the Finn back in sixth after a poor start.
Daniel Ricciardo would retire early on from the race, in what would begin a worrying trend of the Renault powered cars retiring from the race with four of the six Renault's having to retire from the race owing to the lack of cooling in the high altitude, with the only two cars to survive being the race winner and Pierre Gasly, who up until the race had only ran very briefly in FP2 because of persistent reliability issues.
Vettel was at the front of the two championship contenders and now had the task of trying to get at least into the top two positions from the back of the field to maintain his championship aspirations. This however looked a tall order with getting through the traffic with every car seemingly putting up a stern defence against the Ferrari.
Perez was the first to stop of the cars in the points after being hounded by Kimi Raikkonen for a number of laps, which triggered Hulkenberg and Ocon into stopping ahead. However Hulkenberg's car failed him again from what would have been a high scoring position making it a fourth retirement from five and putting him out of the fight.
Another Renault failure in Hartley's Toro Rosso saw the VSC thrown on lap 34, allowing anyone who hadn't pitted up to that point to gain a large advantage on the cars they were racing, with Raikkonen jumping both Force India's and Magnussen and Stroll firmly propelled into the battle for points, with the two championship contenders also taking the opportunity to run fresh rubber.
After the end of the Virtual Safety car Vettel was up to eighth and behind Magnussen, but a long way from the two front runners in Verstappen and Bottas. He would however valiantly go on to try his best to carve through the midfield runners in the hope that he could perhaps get up to second place if Hamilton, who had been struggling to get through the traffic, couldn't get up to the magic ninth place he would need if Vettel were to come second.
However even though Vettel used the latter part of the race to climb past the likes of Stroll and the two Force India's up to fourth place, there was no catching the two out front, and with Hamilton finally finding some pace in what looked to be a damaged Mercedes he was closing in on the ninth place he would need if Vettel were to come second.
A very late pass on old rival Fernando Alonso eventually gave Hamilton the ninth place he needed, and with Vettel now needing the win to prolong the championship battle, the fight was all but over with three laps to go. this left it all but a formality that Hamilton would cross the line to the win the championship with ninth place in Mexico, with Max Verstappen taking a third race win in his young career.
Circuit de Catalunya - Winter testing
Circuit de Catalunya - Winter testing