The win ties the Brit with second most successful driver of all time.
The 33-year-old becomes only the third man in history to win five world titles. He matches the haul of the Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio and is two behind all-time record holder Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton needed only to finish seventh even if Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the race to become champion – but the German could manage only second place behind the dominant Max Verstappen despite a valiant and strong race.
It was a difficult race for the Mercedes driver, who battled tyre problems throughout, but his finishing position just off the podium was more than enough to seal the biggest achievement of an illustrious career.
He was adding the 2018 crown to his championship wins in 2008, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He celebrated by executing ‘doughnut’ wheel spins for the cheering crowd before leaping out of his car and into the arms of his team.
Hamilton said: “It is a very strange feeling right now. This was won through a lot of hard work through a lot of races. I am so grateful for all the hard work, for everyone who has been a part of it.
“To complete this, when Fangio has done it with Mercedes, it is an incredible moment.
“It was a horrible race. I got a great start and was working my way up and I really don’t know what happened after that. I was just trying to hold on and bring the car home.”
‘It was a horrible race’
Verstappen’s win was a
Verstappen, upstaged by his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying on Saturday, came home 17.108 seconds ahead of Vettel after the luckless Australian pole-sitter retired with nine laps remaining.
A puff of smoke signalled an engine failure and his eighth ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) of the season while his 21-year-old Dutch tyro team mate secured a repeat of his 2017 triumph, his second win this season and the fifth of his career.
Vettel’s Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen came home third ahead of Hamilton and his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.
Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Renault ahead of Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Stoffel Vandoorne of McLaren, Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso.
For Ferrari, it was a first double podium success in Mexico since 1990 with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.
The key stats
- For the third time in his five championship-clinching races, Lewis Hamilton has failed to finish on the podium (along with 2008 and 2017). It’s also the first time Hamilton’s been off the podium in 10 races.
- This is the first time Max Verstappen has won twice at the same venue.
- Verstappen also claims the record for the most amount of victories (five) without ever claiming pole, surpassing Bruce McLaren and Eddie Irvine.
- Second marks Sebastian Vettel’s best finish since the Belgian Grand Prix back in August.
- Valtteri Bottas now only has two races to avoid becoming the first Mercedes driver to fail to win at least one Grand Prix in a season in the post-2014 hybrid era.
- Nico Hulkenberg has finished sixth in the past two races, and is now 12 points clear in the ‘best of the rest’ race. Seventh will mark his best ever championship finish, with The Hulk having never been better than ninth in the title race previously.
- Stoffel Vandoorne ends the longest point-less streak of any active driver – he’d gone 15 races without a top 10 finish up until now.
- Marcus Ericsson claims his first consecutive points finish since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix.
- Poor Sergio Perez had the misfortune of retiring at his home race, despite having only not finished three of the previous 68 Grands Prix.
- Pierre Gasly gives Toro Rosso their first point in Mexico since 2015.
DHL Fastest Lap
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 1m 18.741s
One title race might be settled, but there’s still the constructors’ to be sorted, and battle will recommence between Mercedes and Ferrari at the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 9-11. Will Valtteri Bottas get his chance at victory? Will Daniel Ricciardo be able to make it onto the podium as his time with Red Bull comes to a close?