Lewis Hamilton in celebration mode after his win in the Mexican Grand Prix.

Hamilton a champion in waiting after fiery Mexican Grand Prix

THE beans were certainly jumping at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez yesterday where Lewis Hamilton claimed a win in a fiery Mexican Grand Prix — but he’ll have to wait another week to secure his sixth F1 world title.

He had to finish 14 points ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas to claim the title, but the Finn’s third-place kept the race for the drivers’ championship is alive heading into next Sunday’s US Grand Prix.

Ferraris filled the front row after Max Verstappen in the Red Bull secured pole position, but the Dutchman started from fourth because of a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying.

Then he ran off-track after brushing into Hamilton’s Mercedes on the opening lap one, suffered a puncture on lap 10 and made contact with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on lap 22 before rebounding to finally finishing 6th.

Lando Norris’s race ended on lap 13 when he made an early stop for fresh tyres – but the McLaren crew failed to secure one of the front wheels and the orange car wobbled to a halt still in pit lane.

Ferrari looked likely to win, but poor race strategy and a long pit stop on lap 44 for then leader Charles Leclerc messed up his race and let Hamilton assume the lead.

However, Sebastien Vettel saved face for the Maranello team with a fine drive to second spot.

Third was Bottas, with Leclerc 4th and Red Bull’s Alexander Albon put in a fine performance to take 5th place.

Seventh was home hero Sergio Perez in the Racing Point, after a great battle with Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault.

Ten laps from the finish Ricciardo squeezed past Perez, but ran wide and the roar of the crowd could probably be heard in neighbouring Guatemala as the Mexican retained 7th.

Ricciardo finished a second behind and in 9th was Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was nudged off the track on the last of the 71 laps by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, which earned the Russian a 10-second penalty,  dropping him back to 11th.

“There’s not much to say about the final corner incident,” Hulkenberg said. 

“We were running in ninth, but I had no grip, I was pushed by Daniil and it doesn’t take much to spin. It was a shame as it cost us an extra point.”

Daniel Ricciardo, who started from 13th, had a good run to make up five places. 

“It’s good to be in the points,” the Perth-born driver said.

“I could have got more if I had passed Perez, but I just couldn’t make it stick. 

“I sent it into turn one, maybe a little late and the postman wasn’t there! 

“Now we have to move on and keep it up.”

Hamilton’s win gave Mercedes its 100th Grand Prix victory as a constructor. 

“It was an incredible result,” Hamilton said.

“We came here thinking we were on the back foot and it was a difficult race for us, but we pulled through.

“This is a race I’ve wanted to win for some time so I’m incredibly humbled by today’s opportunity.” 

In Austin, Texas, next week, he needs to finish eighth to claim his 83rd F1 win and 6th world title.

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 71 1:36:48.904 25
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 71 +1.766s 18
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 71 +3.553s 15
4 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 71 +6.368s 13
5 23 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING HONDA 71 +21.399s 10
6 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 71 +68.807s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 71 +73.819s 6
8 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 71 +74.924s 4
9 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 70 +1 lap 2
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 70 +1 lap 1
11 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 70 +1 lap 0
12 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 70 +1 lap 0
13 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 70 +1 lap 0
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 70 +1 lap 0
15 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 69 +2 laps 0
16 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 69 +2 laps 0
17 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 69 +2 laps 0
18 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 69 +2 laps 0
NC 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 48 DNF 0

Note – Kvyat received a post-race, 10-second time penalty after hitting the rear of Hulkenberg

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