Lewis Hamilton has secured his fourth world championship despite finishing down in ninth. Verstappen took a dominant victory after Hamilton and Vettel collided at the start, dropping both drivers to the back of the pack. They both fought their way to the points but Hamilton did enough to win the title.
Off the line, Verstappen and Hamilton made good starts to run alongside Vettel going into turn one. Verstappen fought his way to lead in turn 2, although some contact was made with the Ferrari of Vettel. Just after, Hamilton went around the outside of Vettel, but his right rear tyre made contact with Vettel’s front wing.
Having sustained damage, Vettel had to return to the pits for a new nose. But his championship rival, Hamilton picked up a puncture and limped back to the pits. When he rejoined the race, he was 40 seconds down. Meanwhile, Verstappen led from Bottas and Raikkonen.
Vettel began working his way through the pack, but Hamilton struggled to make any progress. Having sustained damage to the diffuser, he was off the pace of Verstappen and by lap 22 was lapped by the race leader – lapped for the first time since 2013.
An engine failure for Hartley on lap 31 made him the third Renault power-car to retire with power unit issues. It also brought out a virtual safety car, resulting in multiple drivers pitting – including race leader Verstappen and Bottas as well championship rivals Vettel and Hamilton.
Verstappen continued to extend his lead, but he was urged by his engineer to slow down with the risk of engine failure looking to be high. However, he continued to set fastest laps and eventually won by 20 seconds. Bottas finished a safe second, with Raikkonen third.
Vettel knew his only chance to take the title was to finish second and once he reached fourth, he was told that it was 26 seconds to his teammate in third. With the championship fight over, he finished the race 4th after a strong comeback but it wasn’t enough.
After the pit stop, Hamilton began to make progress and in the closing stages of the race found himself fighting Alonso for ninth. The Spaniard defended hard and managed to keep the Mercedes behind for multiple laps. Eventually, Hamilton made the pass stick and secured ninth place.
His fourth world championship makes Hamilton the only British driver to take four titles. It also puts him in a group of just 5 drivers who have won more than three championships.