Lewis Hamilton championship

Mexican GP power rankings

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Mexico wasn’t where the championship was won or lost, but it’s where it was decided. For the third time Hamilton has claimed a championship from outside the podium places, and joins only two others, Fangio and Schumacher, with five or more championships. The greatest brit ever? Surely. Best there has ever been? The next years might just confirm that claim.

Here’s how the power rankings shaped up in Mexico.

Moving on up

Max Verstappen missed pole by inches, but despite only getting three hours sleep on Saturday, he was on top of his game on Sunday. After launching into the lead off the line, he ran a controlled race, continuing the rich form that has seen him outscore everyone apart from Lewis Hamilton in the last six races.

Sebastian Vettel needed to give it everything and hope for a Hamilton failure to keep the championship alive. Although things didn’t all go his way, he suddenly enjoyed good pace and put it to good use against but Hamilton and Ricciardo. 

Stoffel Vandoorne and McLaren will soon be parting ways, largely because “Doff” hasn’t finished in the points since Azerbaijan. Despite falling short compared to his teammate this season, popping into the top ten is a rare glimpse of his talents, which hopefully return to the F1 grid sometime soon.

Backsliding

Brendon Hartley did his hopes of securing a drive with Toro Rosso next year no favours, running in a steady position before coming together with Ocon for which he was handed a five-second penalty and demoted down the grid, letting any hope of scoring points slip through his fingers.

Red Bull’s reliability issues continued to bite Daniel Ricciardo in his already thoroughly chewed hide. Clearly chasing performance over reliability, with more retirements than any driver this season, Ricciardo exasperatedly claimed he was done with his car, doesn’t see the point of racing any more this season and is happy to let Pierre Gasly have his car for the remaining races (which just might be on the team’s mind anyway).

Will Smith fans were in for a treat with the…. actor (what is he these days?) delivering a bewildering congratulations message to Hamilton on winning his championship, after a largely forgettable drive. I’m not saying I’m always in touch with the cultural zeitgeist, but even WTF1 wasn’t feeling this misjudged celebration. Liberty continues to struggle to get the balance right between pushing the envelope and sitting on it.

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Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers' championship after Hungarian GP win

From the front row to the lead of the drivers' championship, everything went right for Lewis Hamilton in Hungary on Sunday afternoon.

Hamilton squeezed ahead of Nico Rosberg in to the first corner and held the lead easily for the entire race, having an answer to every threat that Rosberg posed. 

With Ricciardo closing the gap to the Mercedes cars ahead of the second round of pitstops, the team ordered Hamilton to pick up the speed as his steady pace was holding up Rosberg and bringing the undercut against his teammate in to play. Whether it was a deliberate ploy from Hamilton or not, both cars found extra speed and ran untroubled to the flag.

Ferrari's race strategy was on point, with Sebastian Vettel moving into the top four and pressuring Ricciardo in P3 at the end. 

Kimi Raikkonen started from P14 but preserved his tyres in a lengthy first stint to put himself into a position to challenge the top five in the latter stages. Despite clipping Verstappen's rear wheel with his wing at turn four, he couldn't find a way around Max Vertappen at a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

Jenson Button fell foul of the FIA's strengthened radio bans when his brake pedal fell to the floor and, as the team spat instructions on the radio to him fix the situation, exceeded the bounds of what the regulations allow and he was given a drive-through penalty.