The F1 championship came down to two races for Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton this year, starting in Azerbaijan and ending with Mexico, and Lewis Hamilton came out on top.
In a two-lap race, Hamilton led all of his title rivals but faded to 10th at the end. That allowed Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to snatch the title away from Hamilton in Mexico City.
And while Hamilton was forced to defend a championship, the man who came in second in the driver standings will finally be a world champion.
“It just feels so surreal,” Hamilton said at a press conference at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez following the ceremony. “I will never forget this moment. After all I’ve been through for 14 years and all the championships and the hatred I had to suffer, to end up like this, it’s something I’ll cherish forever.”
As Hamilton fought a tense championship fight with Bottas, it became apparent early on that his series of wins and near-perfect race performances were not enough to overtake the Finn.
With the Mercedes driver 11 points behind, Hamilton focused on winning the Baku Grand Prix on Nov. 12 but Hamilton struggled to finish in the top 10, finishing ninth. Bottas closed the gap during the Baku race but was beaten for the title by Hamilton in Mexico.
Hamilton is the most successful F1 driver of all time with eight world championships, including his seventh in Mexico.
“It is so important to have those records,” Hamilton said. “It’s something that brings good karma. I am an old man now and my daughter will be 15 years old, so it’s great that I have some really fond memories of the sport in life time.”