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Verstappen takes victory and Hamilton secures championship at Mexican F1 GP

Max Verstappen took victory at the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix by a comfortable margin over Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen takes victory and Hamilton secures championship at Mexican F1 GP

Max Verstappen took victory at the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix by a comfortable margin over Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton finished ninth, but that was enough to secure a fourth world championship as Sebastian Vettel finished fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen was unchallenged on his way to third place, though he was 55 seconds behind Verstappen at the finish.

A disorderly three-wide dash through the first few corners threw the order into disarray, giving Verstappen the lead from second ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Verstappen squeezed passed Vettel through Turn 2, but the two touched wheels.

Hamilton tried to take advantage of that situation exiting Turn 3 but Vettel made contact with his right-rear tyre, puncturing the Mercedes' ultra-soft and destroying the Ferrari's front-wing.

“He hit me deliberately?” asked Hamilton to his engineer. “Not sure, Lewis,” was the reply. No action was taken by the stewards.

Verstappen then built up a four second gap ahead of Bottas by lap 10, with Force India's Esteban Ocon in third. Hamilton was down in 19th and Vettel 16th after that calamitous start.

Verstappen's lead was six seconds over Bottas by lap 20 with Hamilton back in ninth and Vettel 13th.

Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso ended the race in flames on lap 32, triggering a Virtual Safety Car and allowing Verstappen to pit for softs. Hamilton switched to super-softs from 16th while Vettel took ultra-softs from eighth.

Hamilton's foray to 10th was relatively comfortable until he encountered Alonso with five of the 71 lap race remaining.

Alonso pushed the Mercedes wide whenever possible and the McLaren's strong chassis held up well through the stadium section, while Hamilton found it difficult to keep steady in the McLaren's wake.

On lap 68, the two scrapped again, snaking through the first few corners until Hamilton took ninth from Alonso at Turn 5. They did make contact, but the shower of carbon fibre from Hamilton's Mercedes was innocuous, if spectacular.

Ninth place was enough for Hamilton to secure the championship, and as Vettel finished fourth, Mercedes' nerves were quickly settled.

Hamilton failed to finish on the lead lap for the first time since the Spanish GP in 2013. The last driver to have been lapped during a race in which he secured the world championship was James Hunt, in 1976.

Vettel pried four more positions after the lap 32 VSC to take fourth and finish on the lead lap ahead of Ocon and 70s behind Verstappen.

From second, a controlling and consistently rapid Verstappen had secured victory, 19.678s ahead of Bottas. He set the fastest lap of the race with a 1m18.892s having been told to cover Bottas' laptimes, on the way to the third race win of his career.

Runner-up Bottas was comfortable in second, as was Raikkonen in third as any possible battle between Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes was dashed after that first lap encounter.

The Force Indias, split by Lance Stroll in sixth place, were powerless against the Ferraris but fourth place in the constructors' championship was secured today.

Haas' Kevin Magnussen took eighth ahead of Hamilton, while Alonso rounded out the top 10.

Four Renault-powered cars retired, including both Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr (who stopped on lap 62) and Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg's third consecutive retirement came as his energy recovery system failed on the pit straight.

He left the car carefully, avoiding contact with the ground under instruction from his engineer having been told that the car was “not safe.”

Daniel Ricciardo's MGU-H failed, cutting short the Red Bull driver's attempt to recover from 16th as he retired early in the race.

Marcus Ericsson retired on lap 58 as his car's 2016 Ferrari engine failed, and the fire was extinguished by his Sauber crew in the pitlane. 15 cars finished in total.

Who was your driver of the day at the F1 Mexican GP? Have your say in the comment section below.
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