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It all came down to the Mexican Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton needed a 5th place finish to win his fourth world championship and Sebastian needed a win and for some sort of attrition to keep Lewis out of fifth.

Max Verstappen, who had nothing to lose and a win to gain, had a good start and got alongside Vettel to take the lead but not before the two came together clipping a chunk of Vettel’s front wing off. Lewis Hamilton got along side of Verstappen and Vettel, seeking to take advantage of the Verstappen/Vettel battle and take the lead, but also came together with Vettel causing a flat right rear tire on Hamilton’s car.

If there was a glimpse of keeping the championship battle alive to Brazil, this was it as Hamilton had to box and came out last. However, it still required Vettel, who also had to box for a new nose, to finish 2nd or better regardless of what Hamilton did. That was a tall order for Seb and Ferrari.

The compounding issue for Sebastian was that Lewis’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was running in second and that was going to be the biggest brick wall to Seb’s attempt to reaching second place. The issues Renault was facing with so many Renault-powered cars failing to finish sent shockwaves through Red Bull with Verstappen leading and for Ferrari, they needed Max to have a DNF to free up the second-place spot.

In the end, Sebastian had a terrific recovery drive and race but with Max Verstappen’s third grand prix victory and Valtteri Bottas securing second, the championship was Lewis Hamilton’s and it was his fourth world title. He’s the most successful British driver in history and that’s an incredible accomplishment for the kid from a couch in Stevenage! It’s a powerful message for all those kids sleeping on a couch in Stevenage…chin up, this could happen to you.

Win

A big win, his third in fact, for Max Verstappen who managed to race his way past the corpses of Renault-powered cars to finish, nay, cruise to victory in Mexico. A gutsy move at turn one and the 20-year-old knew he had nothing to lose but a heck of a lot to gain. Without the 7 DNF’s he had earlier this season, it goes a long way for making up for it. Great job, Max! If you can get the car under you, there is a title with your name on it, son. You’re clearly the Tico Jones-Parker-Jankovich-Jones-Parker III of F1 (you’re welcome for the nod, Yahoo Fantasy Football). Doing things in a car that doesn’t really have a right to be there is a sign of a champion (Vettel in Toro Rosso, Alonso in Minardi, Schumacher in a Jordan) and Max is doing it, folks.

A big win for Lance Stroll who claimed 6th while his teammate languished in 11th. A great points result for Williams and great to see the Canadian back in the hunt.

A win for the Swede Marcus Ericsson who was running in the points and having a great race given his unresponsive car. Unfortunately, Marcus’s car gave up the ghost and he was out of the race.

A win for Force India as Esteban Ocon claimed 5th and Perez in 7th and this gives them fourth in the constructor’s championship. The VSC may have cost Ocon and podium but still a great result.

Also a win for Kevin Magnussen whose team, Haas F1, had a miserable weekend leading up to the race on Sunday. Kevin was running in top 10 most of the day and was also suffering with a stomach illness in the process.

Sure, it wasn’t a points position but Pierre Gasly had no running in his Toro Rosso and jumped in to get the car home. Not bad for a rookie. Also, a nice point for Fernando Alonso and McLaren and a good battle with Lewis Hamilton in the process. I really enjoyed the chippy battle he gave the 4-time champ. That was fun to watch. It’s also a good sing that McLaren have a terrific chassis and if they can get a decent shove behind them, they could be a contender next year in the hands of Alonso.

Ultimately it was a huge win for Lewis Hamilton who wasn’t happy with winning from 9th but while he was making a big deal out of never giving up in the race and battling back to ninth, that wasn’t really the winning element. It was his battling through adversity in the beginning of the year and his re-focused approach after the summer break that saw him driving better than I’ve ever seen him and he did an amazing drive in the second half of the season. Incredible job, Lewis, and congratulations on an amazing season and becoming one of the best in the sport.

Fail

Second place isn’t a fail but Valtteri’s pace, 20-seconds off the pace of Max, was a bit of a head-scratching moment. You could argue the same for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen but he was caught up in some mid-field battles and it took a while to recover.

Not a great race for Pascal Wehrlein who is desperately seeking a ride in 2018 while his teammate, Ericsson, was running in the points at one part of the race. A fail for Sauber’s Ferrari-powered car for letting Ericsson down with a DNF.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A fail for Renault and their power unit with every team running a Renault had a DNF. Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Brendon Hartley.

A fail for me because I guess I am getting old but a DJ and club mix on the podium quite honestly seems to be turning F1 podiums into a rave and not a respected sporting event. It cheapens the entire moment in my opinion. Is this X Games or a Formula 1 race? It’s not even a case of, “oh, it’s hip with the young kids” kind of thing…honestly. WTH? What next? Pole dancers and lap dances on the podium?

WTH

I may have missed what Romain Grosjean got his penalty for but if it was for running off the track and gaining an advantage in his altercation with Alonso, I may have overlooked something because it seemed to me that it was a bit of a mugging from Fernando.

One of those odd situations in which Lewis Hamilton, of all people, was getting blue flagged. Not something you normally see. I also noticed Lewis was very much in the same mindset of other drivers in his position before the race. The seat was too hot, the engine didn’t have power when he blipped the throttle. When you are this close to a title, every single thing screams at you as a point of failure. I can’t imagine the pressure Lewis or others in his position have felt ahead of a race that they could win the title. I’d be a nervous wreck.

Was Lewis Hamilton running back to Los Angeles to celebrate with his friends? He just took off and must have practically ran a complete lap of the circuit with fans and press running after him and falling down behind him with a keen body check from one dude in a white shirt, people tugging on his British flag around his shoulders. Good grief, what was that all about? It was like he was running through a den of lions wearing a ham suit.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

I watched the race on the NBC Sports Live Extra app and just wanted to mention that with all the Lindsey Vonn commercials calling her unstoppable, I feel compelled to offer a correction. Lewis is unstoppable and Lindsey found that out last year at the USGP when her fawning over him was met with a cool brush off. Just FYI. Get in there, Lewis!

I’m also unclear on how the NBC app works because they switched the F1 feed over to NASCAR…doesn’t NASCAR have its own feed that people are watching? Why are we moving to NASCAR when a championship has just been won?

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

Also, I was watching the NBC app and perhaps I am old and not a keen observer but I missed the entire Virtual Safety Car period…when did that happen and how did I manage to miss that on NBC’s coverage? Was it for Hartley’s stranded car and I was at a commercial break watching Rutledge Wood acting like a 5-year-old at Outback steak house?

Results

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 71 1h36m26.550s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 71 19.678s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 54.007s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 1m10.078s
5 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 70 1 Lap
6 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 70 1 Lap
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 70 1 Lap
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 70 1 Lap
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 1 Lap
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 70 1 Lap
11 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 70 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 70 1 Lap
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Renault 70 1 Lap
14 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 69 2 Laps
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 69 2 Laps
Carlos Sainz Renault 59 Retirement
Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 55 Power Unit
Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Renault 30 Power Unit
Nico Hulkenberg Renault 24 Retirement
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 5 Retirement

Driver’s Championship

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 333
2 Sebastian Vettel 277
3 Valtteri Bottas 262
4 Daniel Ricciardo 192
5 Kimi Raikkonen 178
6 Max Verstappen 148
7 Sergio Perez 92
8 Esteban Ocon 83
9 Carlos Sainz 54
10 Lance Stroll 40
11 Felipe Massa 36
12 Nico Hulkenberg 34
13 Romain Grosjean 28
14 Kevin Magnussen 19
15 Stoffel Vandoorne 13
16 Fernando Alonso 11
17 Jolyon Palmer 8
18 Pascal Wehrlein 5
19 Daniil Kvyat 5
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
22 Pierre Gasly 0
23 Brendon Hartley 0

Constructor’s Championship

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 595
2 Ferrari 455
3 Red Bull/Renault 340
4 Force India/Mercedes 175
5 Williams/Mercedes 76
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 53
7 Renault 48
8 Haas/Ferrari 47
9 McLaren/Honda 24
10 Sauber/Ferrari 5
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • johnblair7

    Congratulations to Max, a great win. Congratulations to Lewis on the 4th title. Only fair that Seb didn’t get second after causing the collision with Lewis. Seb has been a bit scruffy in a few races. Still should be a couple of great races ahead. Next season could be a cracker. Merc, Ferrari, Red Bull and even McLaren in the mix.

    • Junipero Mariano

      Seb and Lewis are definitely carrying this into next year. Max, Daniel, and Fernando all have chances too, provided Renault stays in range. Daniel and Fernando may have a promising 2019, too, the Finns can’t finish neck and neck with their teammates.

    • p1ngu

      I think you’re right – Seb has been a bit careless. Singapore was over-eagerness, I think, but both Baku and Mexico were cases of him not judging the gap well enough and running into the back of Lewis.

      It’s something he’ll have to work on, I feel, because tiny things like this can change a championship. Right now whenever there’s a 50:50 situation I’d bet on Seb getting it wrong, whereas I’d expect Lewis to get it right. They’re both 4xWDC, but right now Lewis is driving far better, and has the confidence of being champion three years out of the last four. Roll on 2018!

  • Tom Firth

    The VSC was for Hartley car on fire on lap 33

    • Salvu Borg

      Hartley’s Renault motor had been consuming a lot of oil for several laps and all that oil found its way into the turbo turbine and out of the exhaust, and that is what caused the small fire. But that apart from the turbo failure, of which Renault (power units) had 5 such failures (all particularly around the turbo-ERS).
      To get equivalent power to that produced at lower altitudes, the turbo have to spin around 4k RPM faster in Mexico.
      At the altitude Mexico City is the air is only 75% as dense as at sea level, and apart from the engine and brake cooling/s having to cope with 25% less dense cooling air, the turbo is similarly affected, as also are qualifying mode and DRS rendered as good as useless.

      • they didn’t mention that on the US broadcast, where is that intel from? That his engine was burning a lot of oil for several laps? Was that on a broadcast and if so, which one? Those are details that the team normally doesn’t discuss with media.

        • charlie white

          And I stopped using the NBCSN app months ago when they started doing parallel commercial breaks along with the broadcast and removed the multi-cast/telemetry features.

        • Tom Firth

          It comes from Mark Hughes post race report at Motorsport Magazine.

          • There you go, I was wondering where the intel was coming from. Mark is a terrific guy and in the know.

          • Salvu Borg

            There is no doubt that Mark Hughes is a terrific guy and in the know as to anything to do with F1, certainly one of the best. and that is why and the only one around that I most enjoy sparing (dialog) F1 technical matters with, with no holds barred, he is also the only one that will permit non agreement with what he says on his web pages. having said all that, everybody and his dog (apart from those that specializes in speculations) that comments on mostly technical matters depends more or less on others, (the actual real experts) that are actually involved for the accuracy of their gustimations.

        • Salvu Borg

          I do not follow the US broadcast, although all broadcasters use the “FOM WORLD FEED” they all have different level of expert technical commentators during the race weekend coverage. I do not follow the race weekend on an English speaking feed. some English speaking FI web sites does follow and quote (depends-on) other non English speaking F1 web sites for their technical information.
          As to the Renault engined STR’S, First see my post on “Vettel on pole for Mexico Grand Prix” page as to the Renault/STR spares situation.
          Replacing an ICE and it being listed by the FIA power unit element report does not mean that ICE is necessary a new ICE, it can be a previously used ICE which falls out of the present and previous one last used of which counts as to the number of elements allowed.
          5 out of 6 Renault power units on the grid suffered failures mostly around the turbo/ERS elements with most of them for more then once (repeat failure). this type of turbo/ERS failure will in most cases lead to ICE internal damage.
          oil burning/use/consumption can be the cause of the ICE as much as the turbo itself. depending on turbo/MGU-H configuration the turbo failure problem will in most cases affect the MGU-H.

          • Salvu Borg

            Re power unit elements use/d. I might not have made myself clear enough.
            When a new power unit element out of the six is introduced it will be listed in the FIA power unit elements used report, but that newly listed power unit element as well as the one before it can be raced (used) and the FIA will not show/list which is being used/raced, BUT if the one before those is re-introduced the FIA power unit element use report will list it as a new element being introduced. spares situations can lead to a situation were maximum mileage reached elements have to be re-introduced.

  • subcritical71

    Guys… don’t look now but Bottas is very close to 2nd!

    • Rock or Something

      I hope he gets it. This year was a real eye opener for me I was annoyed by the way Lewis treated Rosberg’s 2016 win and wanted to see him miss out again and stoked for Vettel and Ferrari. But to my great surprise Lewis really seemed to mature as a racer while Vettel…..

      I think he purposely cut Lewis’ tire and it isn’t the first time this season he’s intentionally struck his rival’s car. I think judging his body of work this season he should get a race ban.

      Vettel worships Michael Schumacher well congratulations, you’re a lot like him. How long until we see you park across the track during qualifying I wonder.

      Congratulations Lewis, to see the level of professionalism and self control rise without losing a bit of ultimate pace, wow you deserve to be the Champion, you drove like one.

      • B52Rocklobster

        Pretty funny that people think Vettel has the precision to clip someones back tire, while accelerating out of a corner with another car to his right.

        Did he purposely hit Verstappens car the corner before too?

        Why wouldn’t he have purposely hit Hamilton when he passed him in Austin? He would have gained a lot more at that point.

        Look critically at the video, and realize that both VET and HAM were getting wheelspin out of that corner, were countersteering to compensate, and it was purely a racing incident. If Hamilton wanted a chance to win that race, he should have thought better about going 3 wide into that tight section of turns.

        • I agree. Paul and I may differ on opinion for this podcast but to claim Vettel, in those milliseconds, deliberately clipped Lewis’s tire seems a bit of a stretch. Now, one could argue that he knew he had a damaged wing so sod it, I’ll get aggressive here and perhaps that may have crossed his mind but I think it is down to the reasons you mention above.

          • Rock or Something

            He clearly has a line which is established, after the hard part of the turn is over, and which leaves him clear of Hamilton, and then he clearly turns his wheel to the left. It’s just not at the part of the turn where you’d be countersteering, because it’s a little after the point you’d get back on the gas.

            I’ll agree with you that there’s room for disagreement, I would not say I’m 100% sure, but what we do know all points one way.

            It’s not like the idea he would lash out in anger and whack Hamilton’s car is some crazy unproven theory right, what’s more likely, he acts like he’s acted before, or he all the sudden isn’t a good driver?

          • B52Rocklobster

            Sorry, I agree with nothing that you said. Vettel is in the exact spot where you would get on the power (watch Hamilton’s in car for confirmation..he gets hit right as he gets on the power, and is at that point a whole car length ahead of Vettel), and Vettel is clearly countersteering BEFORE he hits Hamilton.

            All of the video you need to see is right here:

            https://www.facebook.com/Formula1/?ref=nf&hc_ref=ARQkvIzoYTKZExO0HBjq1bA5zV7XzgzS5N2aEM1XjtSAI7F0SRT6fUEvGABiUSnCKhE

            Your hate is clouding your judgment as evidenced by trying to also blame Vettel for purposely forcing Max off track…again it was a racing incident with driver’s jockeying for position. Max’s comment was about how is took the lead of the race 3 turns in.

          • Rock or Something

            That’s not correct. First of all note I said this wasn’t how I wanted it, I had wanted Vettel to wrest the title from Hamilton. I dislike Hamilton as a person as you can see in other posts on this very F1B story. I try to be open to facts though. Your link didn’t seem to work, just took me to your facebook page but no video, but here is one which probably works just as well.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW9IBCW_UGQ

            You can clearly see Vettel’s car change direction from the front of the car back (i.e. steering, not oversteering then countersteering). He turns into Hamilton (at about 30 seconds). He is in fact steering before he hits Hamilton, as you say, that’s how you run into someone, you see them next to you then you steer toward them, and then you hit them. If your wing is already ruined from hitting Verstappen (also hard to explain for a great driver like Vettel) there’s no cost to doing it. Comparing that to Hamilton’s experience is ludicrous, fully half Hamilton’s car is off the track, he’s taken a much wider line, it’s just not relevant. You maybe have to have spent some time racing to understand, I don’t know, but it seems pretty clear. Why doesn’t Ferrari release the telemetry, I’m sure if you’re right it’ll show the wheelspin and then the steering input. Where is it? At the very most it spun a little, Vettel got off the gas and fixed it, and AFTER that turned into lewis. You can see this when you watch it frame by frame, he’s in control of the car. He’s not a beginner.

            You can also hear in that video the commentators stating exactly what I said, Vettel forcing Verstappen off the track.

            And finally, to repeat, this is not an incident I am 100% sure of. I’m talking about what seems obvious, I understand there’s room for disagreement.

        • Rock or Something

          Yeah it would be as incredible as to think he could drive around a three mile track and complete laps in the same time over and over down to the hundredth, or that he could hit an inch-perfect spot on an apex from inside a car with limited visibility, it would be as incredible as any of the hundreds of incredible things a formula one driver does every weekend. I mean be serious of course he could do that.

          And the Austin argument is just silly those are totally different situations, it would have been much more obvious, the last-chance for the title desperation wasn’t there, it’s just completely different.

          As for Verstappen’s car he DID purposely push him off, which is what Verstappen’s sarcastic comment ‘simply lovely’ or whatever was about.

        • subcritical71

          I think people are viewing this from more of the perceived mindset of Vettel. He has proven numerous time to be mercilous in his on track behavior. He may not have decided in that split second to hit Hamilton, he could have decided that prior to the race depending one how different scenarios played out. But who knows, that red mist could also have be very quick!

    • Irmoboy

      The Bottas rise in points to be a serious contender for 2nd is the “real” 2nd place story here and will hopefully get more airtime in the podcast. Not sure how the Merc will set up for these two races but with RB back in the picture hopefully – the math is more than theoretical and I am sure Toto and Lewis both want this final coup to The Prancing horses…….

      • Rock or Something

        Do you feel Lewis would help Valterri do this? Could Lewis bring himself to put himself behind Valterri to help, or is that sort of subservience just out of his reach as a person?

        I don’t mean to imply anything, I’m actually curious what you think. I don’t know myself what to expect but it should be interesting you make a good point.

        • subcritical71

          Based on Lewis giving back a position earlier in the year I believe he would help Bottas. Why not, he’s already mentioned about being passed over by Ferrari in recent weeks.

      • JBlaze

        Wishful thinking on my part, but hopefully its setup to test out new features for next years chassis.

  • Just after Nico sent him a congratulations message on social media, Lewis told Sky Sports this:

    “Obviously each year I could do the easy thing which is stop & retreat like Nico did with these 4 titles, but I think there is more in me.”

    And yet, interestingly, in the posted Sky Sports F1 Q&A article, they left this bit out:

    http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/11105394/world-champion-lewis-hamiltons-qa-with-sky-f1-after-mexican-gp

    • Salvu Borg

      Dear NC, Are you that surprised about SKY?

    • Rock or Something

      Boy it IS sad isn’t it, that Hamilton, who is so dominant and has reached such a level of exceptional performance, is still so desperate and needy and insecure? I mean how about every podium ceremony when the interviewer starts talking to the second place person and Lewis has to pour champagne on them or ask them to do a lightning bolt pose with him or whatever it takes to turn the camera back on him?

      I used to race motorcycles with a guy who said ‘there are no happy champions. some of them are happy for a few seconds a couple times in their lives, but that’s as close as they’ll ever get’ It makes me sad to see Lewis seem to prove this true.

      I guess I would feel pretty satisfied if I were Nico though, knowing he thinks about me constantly :)

      • Schumi Toronto

        THANK-YOU! You are the first person that has mentioned the fact that Hammy has to try to steal attention away from someone else on the podium or in the post-qualifying interviews with the top 3 drivers! He’s done it a bunch of times now! Don’t worry … someone is going to pop a hole in that over-swelling head next year …. I HOPE!

  • Sakae

    Vettel is picking up a lot of hateful language, however after watching the start repeatedly, I am trying hard not to draw conclusion in Vettel’s favor, and I will wait a few days more to cool my head, and understand better what actually happened.

    1. Ferrari seems to be slower than RB, but at the end Verstappen has overtaken Vettel while he was out of track limits, at least so it seems. In the past Vettel has overtaken Button in similar fashion, and had to give gained position back. Was Vettel’s “duty” to yield? They are racing, Vettel is leading and he is free to choose his lines.

    2. There was contact with Verstappen’s car, front of Ferrari got damaged, cars on the left, cars on the right – how much control Vettel had over his car in that moment, and how much we should be surprised there was consequently contact with another vehicle (unfortunately Hamilton)? After Baku people now want his head, and race ban, because of course i) he has done it before, and ii) he is German and as Schumacher, he must have done it deliberately.

    In coming days, when heads cool down, I really would like to understand what happened, because right now hysteria is just boiling, and there is no point to ask, and expect to hear any objective judgement.

    • Ralph Beentjes

      Regarding your first point: Verstappen did not overtake Vettel while out of track limits, only his left set of tyres were over the white line and you need to have all four wheels over the line to exceed track limits. And going into turn 1, Vettel wasn’t exactly ‘leading’ the race, as Verstappen was right next to him and neither was clearly ahead and free to choose a racing line.

  • MIE

    Why does the FIA drivers championship table only list 23 drivers, when 24 have taken part so far?
    Did Button not pay to register for the championship or something?