Story of the season: How Hamilton secured a fifth world title

LEWIS Hamilton claimed his fifth world championship at the Mexican Grand Prix, with two races to spare, as he finished fourth to finally banish the challenge of Sebastian Vettel.

The German needed to finish first to deny Hamilton the title but failed as Max Verstappen ran away with the race in Mexico City.

But how did the story of the season go for the battle between Hamilton and Vettel? Here’s a brief overview of how it played out…

AUSTRALIA

Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position after blitzing the field in qualifying. He looked set to open his championship defence with a win only for a Mercedes pit-wall blunder to gift-wrap the victory to rival Vettel.

VETTEL: 25 HAMILTON 18

Sebastian Vettel drew first blood in Australia.Source:Getty Images

BAHRAIN

Hamilton started only ninth after he served a grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. From pole, Vettel sealed his second victory in as many races, while Hamilton recovered to finish third.

VETTEL: 50 HAMILTON: 33

Sebastian Vettel made it two wins from two at the start of the season.Source:Getty Images

CHINA

A late safety car and collision caused by a hot-headed Max Verstappen meant Vettel dropped from first to eighth, while Hamilton, in a below-par Mercedes, crossed the line fourth.

VETTEL: 54 HAMILTON: 45

Lewis Hamilton made the best of Sebastian Vettel’s collision but neither were on the podium.Source:Getty Images

AZERBAIJAN

Hamilton took advantage of Valtteri Bottas’s late tyre blow-out and a failed move by Vettel for the lead to claim an unlikely opening win of the season. Vettel finished fourth allowing Hamilton to take control of the championship for the first time.

HAMILTON: 70 VETTEL: 66

Lewis Hamilton picked up his first win in Baku.Source:Getty Images

SPAIN

An on-song Hamilton dominated in Barcelona to claim successive victories and extend his lead over Vettel who took the chequered flag in fourth place.

HAMILTON: 95 VETTEL: 78

Lewis Hamilton pulled further ahead as he secured back-to-back wins.Source:Getty Images

MONACO

Vettel finished second and Hamilton third in a non-eventful race won by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the streets of Monte Carlo.

HAMILTON: 110 VETTEL: 96

Both men were on the podium but it was Daniel Ricciardo who claimed the spoils.Source:Getty Images

CANADA

Hamilton lost the lead of the championship in Montreal after a strategy blunder by Mercedes saw the Briton finish a lowly fifth as a dominant Vettel claimed his third win of the year.

VETTEL: 121 HAMILTON: 120

Sebastian Vettel was dominant in Canada.Source:AFP

FRANCE

Vettel collided with Bottas at the opening bend and dropped to last after damaging his front wing. He fought back to fifth as Hamilton won from pole on Formula One’s first return to France in a decade.

HAMILTON: 145 VETTEL: 131

Lewis Hamilton made the most of damage to Sebastian Vettel’s car.Source:AFP

AUSTRIA

A poor strategy call before an engine failure led to Hamilton’s only retirement of the year. Vettel was penalised three grid places after he blocked Carlos Sainz in qualifying. He finished third, but reclaimed the title lead.

VETTEL: 146 HAMILTON: 145

Sebastian Vettel settled for third to move ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Austria.Source:Getty Images

BRITAIN

Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole before Kimi Raikkonen ran into him on the opening lap. The Briton fought back to second in front of the partisan Silverstone crowd, but Vettel extended his championship advantage after taking the win.

VETTEL: 171 HAMILTON: 163

Sebastian Vettel won at Lewis Hamilton’s home race…Source:Getty Images

GERMANY

Arguably the turning point in the championship as Vettel crashed out from the lead in the wet. Hamilton started 14th following a mechanical failure but took advantage of Vettel’s error to seal the most unlikely of victories.

HAMILTON: 188 VETTEL: 171

… but Lewis Hamilton returned the favour in Germany.Source:Getty Images

HUNGARY

A Ferrari-strong track, but Hamilton secured pole with a brilliant lap in the wet before controlling the race and taking the chequered flag and a 24-point lead into the summer break.

HAMILTON: 213 VETTEL: 189

Lewis Hamilton went into the break with a 24-point lead.Source:AFP

BELGIUM

Hamilton may have started from pole but he had no answer for Ferrari’s pace after Vettel passed his Mercedes rival and sealed what, to date, is his only win in the second half of the year.

HAMILTON: 231 VETTEL: 214

Belgium was Sebastian Vettel’s only win after the break.Source:Getty Images

ITALY

Hamilton delivered the race of his life to go behind enemy lines and win on Ferrari’s home soil in inferior Mercedes machinery. Vettel clumsily banged wheels with his rival on the opening lap to finish fourth.

HAMILTON: 256 VETTEL: 226

Mercedes dominated at Ferrari’s home track.Source:AFP

SINGAPORE

A self-proclaimed dream lap by Hamilton ensured he secured pole against the odds to win under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit as Vettel toiled home in third.

HAMILTON: 281 VETTEL: 241

Lewis Hamilton started to pull away from Sebastian Vettel in Singapore.Source:AFP

RUSSIA

Mercedes played the team game as Bottas was ushered aside for Hamilton to win again. Ferrari were well off the pace as Vettel finished third.

HAMILTON: 306 VETTEL: 256

A Mercedes one-two saw Lewis Hamilton triumph in Russia.Source:AFP

JAPAN

Another win for Hamilton and another error by Vettel. Hamilton won from pole but Vettel, who started only ninth after Ferrari got their tyre strategy wrong in qualifying, came together with Verstappen and finished sixth.

HAMILTON: 331 VETTEL: 264

A win in Japan all but sealed Lewis Hamilton’s win.Source:AFP

UNITED STATES

After securing a brilliant pole, it was expected that Hamilton would be crowned champion in Austin, but a strategy error by Mercedes denied him a shot at victory even though he increased his lead over the German.

HAMILTON 346 VETTEL 276

Lewis Hamilton missed the chance to win the title in the US.Source:AFP

MEXICO

Despite what he described as “a horrible race”, Hamilton did what he had to do by coasting home in fourth as Vettel finished second behind race winner Verstappen.

HAMILTON 358 VETTEL 294

Originally published as Story of the season: How Hamilton secured a fifth world title

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