Lewis Hamilton got the party he needed for the Mexican win. He will have to wait for a sixth career championship for another week.
The Mercedes driver defied the front-row start of Ferrari to win the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, bringing him so close to the season title that he’s all but guaranteed to win it in the U.S. next week.
“I don’t mind. I love racing,” Hamilton said after climbing out of his car with a wave to the massive crowds at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. “This is a race I’ve wanted to win for some time. It came together nicely.”
It came together because Hamilton overcame his car floor damage from an opening-lap collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and then managed an early tire change to drive away with a comfortable win over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for a shocking 48 laps.
Only the third-place finish of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas denied Hamilton the season championship with the slimmest margins. Hamilton had to defeat Bottas by 14 points, but instead picked up 10 when securing his season 10th win and his career 83rd.
Lewis Hamilton Talks About his Experience
That will also send the championship to the U.S. next week. Hamilton has won the Grand Prix five times since 2012. He clinched the title of 2015 there, too.
“It’s been a good hunting ground for me,” Hamilton said of the Texas race.
Moreover, Hamilton had won the 2017 and 2018 championships here, but fared poorly in both races and didn’t make the podium either time. Also, drivers call the Mexico City winners’ celebration the biggest and wildest of the season, and Hamilton hadn’t stood there since his victory in 2016.
“You could see someone else on the podium celebrating the win and you wanted to do that,” Hamilton said.
It also allowed Hamilton to start third with a chance to chase a win and the championship.
Furthermore, the tire change of Hamilton on Lap 23 proved to be pivotal as he pulled to the front, but it wasn’t without worry.
“Also, it feels like we stopped too early,” Hamilton radioed his garage. “This is a long way to go on these tires, man.”
“I always leave Max a lot of space,” Hamilton said. “That’s the smartest thing you can do.”