British racing driver Lewis Hamilton has equaled the five-title haul of the great Juan Manuel Fangio by finally securing his fifth Formula 1 drivers’ championship at yesterday’s Mexican Grand Prix. Entering the race, Hamilton needed only to finish in seventh place to wrap up the championship (regardless of whether rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari won the race or not). In the end, Hamilton finished just outside of the podium in fourth place after having started third on the grid behind the two Red Bull drivers. Only the legendary Michael Schumacher has won more titles with seven, a tally that is now very much within Hamilton’s reach.
Taking into account the race results in Mexico, Hamilton now has 358 points to Vettel’s 294. With just two races remaining (Brazil and Abu Dhabi) and a maximum 50 points (25 per race) up for grabs, Hamilton’s 64-point lead is officially unassailable. Vettel was gracious enough in defeat, walking up to Hamilton and congratulating his nemesis in front of their cheering fans.
Hamilton first joined F1 in 2007 as a rookie driver for McLaren alongside the veteran (and two-time champion) Fernando Alonso. Hamilton was so good he matched his accomplished teammate point for point—they both finished the season with 109 points each, with neither one getting the overall trophy. Hamilton won his first title the following season, in 2008, with McLaren.
Subsequent unfruitful years at McLaren forced him to move to Mercedes F1 in 2013, promptly bagging the title in 2014. He successfully defended his title in 2015, before seeing it change hands in favor of teammate Nico Rosberg. Rosberg was so spent stealing the championship from Hamilton that he announced his retirement right after accomplishing what many had thought to be an impossible task. Hamilton won it all again in 2017 and then served up more of the same this year.
“Honestly, it’s very hard to realize it at the moment,” the newly crowned champion said. “It’s something I dreamed of, but I never in a million years thought I’d be standing here today as a five-time world champion. I never knew that was going to happen, and I am just so grateful to everyone who has helped me be here.”