Lewis Hamilton's world title celebrations were oddly subdued in the Mercedes camp immediately after a Mexican Grand Prix seen by the team as its worst performance of the season. The defeat may have been expected, but it was still painful. Hamilton, 33, has won four of his in the last five years and has a contract with champions Mercedes for two more seasons.
But he showed his fundamental sportsmanship and quality in the searingly honest appraisal of his year and the warmth of his congratulations to Hamilton after Sunday's race.
Heading into Mexico, Hamilton's championship rival Sebastian Vettel needed to win the race with Hamilton finishing no higher than seventh.
Hollywood superstar Will Smith's voice boomed at Hamilton seconds after he snagged his fifth title with a fourth place finish in Mexico on Monday morning (AEDT).
"But they have had the dominant auto since 2014 so you have to say the next two years, Hamilton will be starting certainly next year as favourite".
Then, he snapped at his race engineer, Pete Bonnington, telling him to leave him to it.
Hamilton General had a not too good race. A puncture kyboshed Bottas, gifting Hamilton a timely win after cameo roles to leading man Vettel in Australia and Bahrain and to Daniel Ricciardo in China. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all the hard work my dad did and my family. I think that's testament to where we are.
A controversial driver, he collided with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve at the 1994 and 1997 championship deciders, before he deliberately parked his Ferrari at Monaco in 2006 to prevent Fernando Alonso from setting a lap in qualifying.
Vettel was cautious about his prospects of jumping anyone ahead - despite having a potential tow from three cars - as he is starting from the dirty side of the grid. The supersofts did not seem to work too well for Mercedes as the Brit was continually on his radio to complain about its degradation.
While there may be 22 per cent less oxygen here at the high-altitude Mexico City venue, some 2,200 metres above sea level, Hamilton kept his cool on a manic stampede to the opening bend. But the overall achievement is magnificent and Lewis' driving this year has been peerless so we have to be happy. They did a superb job all year. It's something that of course I dreamed of, but never in a million years did I think I'd be standing here today a five-time world champion. "So I mainly congratulated him and asked him to keep pushing for next year and said I'll do my best to fight him again".
"Obviously not an easy day but well deserved and congrats to him and his team", said Vettel.
Ferrari hasn't won the driver's championship since 2007.
Ricciardo's effort set up what could be the Australian's last best chance to win for Red Bull. He signed with Ferrari in 2015 with the goal of bringing the championship back to F1's most famous team.
What we have witnessed this season is Hamilton at the peak of his powers.
We take a look at Hamilton's path to F1 greatness.
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