Maybe he did not do the business in Austin a week ago, but at the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship with two rounds still remaining, finishing fourth to seal the deal.
The 33-year-old Briton has now joined Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time world champion, only Michael Schumacher has more titles at the pinnacle of the sport.
In the wake of being ranked in the top five Formula 1 greats of all time by Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve, Hamilton did the business this year by being almost unbeatable in the post-summer stanza of the season.
Taking defeat on the chin in Belgium, Mercedes spearheaded by their ace bounced back with a coup d’etat at Monza, Ferrari’s hallowed home ground, and since then their driver has taken his game to another level.
After the Italian Grand Prix triumph, Hamilton remained unbeatable until COTA, while behind him Vettel and his team fumbled and stumbled despite at times having a better package at their disposal, again Monza springs to mind as does his antics in Austin last weekend.
Whatever the case Hamilton has maximised every opportunity handed to him, while Mercedes have kept his car in the zone and, of course, Valtteri Bottas has played the exemplary wingman because, after two years, it is clear that the Finn is not in the Briton’s league at this stage of play.
Nine wins in a season packed with pendulum swings in the balance of power when at times Ferrari had the edge over Mercedes, but Vettel was unable to capitalise on the advantage while Hamilton was there to inflict damage.
When the dust has settled on this championship, it would be fair to say that the real major turning point in Hamilton’s title tilt was indeed at Monza, then another nail in the Ferrari ‘2018 coffin’ at Suzuka where the German committed F1’s version of hara-kiri as he did at Baku, Paul Ricard, Hockenheim and again in Texas.
From his humble karting days, Hamilton has become a titan of this sport, increasingly admired for his talents on track and the fact that he is doing things his way despite the criticism levelled his way.
From red carpet A-list events on one day to the pitlanes around the globe, Hamilton can transform from being paparazzi fodder on one day to the fastest race driver on the planet the next day, with remarkable ease. His way works for him and it is a big Shhhh! to his critics.
Highlights of his season are simply too many, and we will dissect them in due course, but that Singapore pole position lap must rate as one of the greatest efforts of all time, in a nutshell: three tenths faster than anyone else on the night, six tenths up on Vettel and seven tenths up on Bottas in the sister car.
That night he lifted the benchmark to the point few will reach, but for future, his rivals know what it will take to beat Hamilton. The night after his heroics around Marina Bay he went on to win the race and the next three in a row to boot.
Hail King Lewis!
Making the most of Vettel’s mistakes:
|Azerbaijan||Vettel error when battling for the lead with Bottas, Hamilton wins|
|France||Vettel collides with Bottas drops down the field, Hamilton wins|
|Germany||Vettel crashes into barriers while leading comfortably, Hamilton wins|
|Italy||Vettel collides with Hamilton on the first lap, Hamilton wins|
|Japan||Vettel collides with Verstappen after ill-judged overtake, Hamilton wins|
|USA||Vettel collides with Ricciardo, Hamilton third|