It wasn’t the end we’d have scripted for the 2017 title race but it wasn’t exactly lacking in drama.
Predictable first-corner crunches, lots of engines expiring in Mexico City’s thin air and, inevitably, Lewis Hamilton taking his fourth championship.
But that’s selling the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix short – there were some cracking driving displays at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, and a tiny bit of naughty sauce from Max Verstappen. He’d earned it…
Securing his fourth World Championship, with a few races to spare, means Hamilton now leaves Sir Jackie Stewart behind to become Britain’s most successful F1 driver.
But it wasn’t the way he’d have chosen to take the 2017 title – in fact, he said it was a ‘horrible’ way to clinch the championship, although he was smiling when he said it.
That first-lap fankle when Vettel ran out of space and, just perhaps, talent, left Hamilton limping to the pits with a rear puncture and part of his diffuser missing, relegating him to the back of the pack, with a badly handicapped Mercedes.
He dragged his Silver Arrow back up to ninth, but it wasn’t the most convincing charge through the field; it wasn’t even a charge.
Hamilton found himself being lapped. It’s hard to recall the last time Hamilton was lapped – it happened at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, a time so distant that Fernando Alonso is recorded as a winner rather than a whiner.
Instead of leading from the front or fighting with a Ferrari, Hamilton was struggling with Saubers and mixing it with McLarens (more of which later).
Of course, he did enough – he’d done enough in the last few races – and, as he crossed the finish line, Hamilton raised his hands to his visor, as if he was shedding a tear or two in victory.
But tears were there none. There was a slightly creepy congratulatory radio message from that footy fellow Neymar, who of late has been a bit of a Hansel to Hamilton’s Zoolander.
And there was a particularly awks interview on the track with David Coulthard – it wasn’t really an interview, more a series of increasingly desperate pleas from DC for Hamilton to say something, anything, then Hamilton praising Mexico’s F1 fans as the best in the world.
Which must have been galling for those fans in all the other countries where Hamilton has heaped identical praise this season. Ah well, it’s nice to be nice.
The whole thing felt weirdly anti-climactic – even Hamilton’s celebration doughnuts were a bit lacklustre, kind of like Krispy Kremes without icing.
In fact, the biggest ‘Oooh’ moment came when the entire podium rotated to reveal superstar DJ Hardwell.
Hardwell was the idea of F1 super-sponsor Heineken (don’t drink when you’re on the decks, kids) and his appearance was worthwhile if only to glory in the expressions on the faces of second and third-place finishers Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen. The Finnish pair bore the pained look of parents who have stumbled into their kids’ party by mistake and would rather be somewhere, anywhere else, listening to something a little less jumpy.
Heh-heh. Kimi shrugged and took a huge swig of champagne, and the circus became a little more bearable for him.
Anyway, huge congratulations to Hamilton who, hopefully, can now enjoy racing as hard as he wants (and helping Bottas secure second place in the championship) for the last couple of races this season.