Lewis Hamilton has equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles to become the most successful driver of all time, after clinching the 2017 championship in Mexico.
Hamilton had led the championship by 43 points from Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel going into the season finale in Mexico City, but the German won in the rain to cut the lead to just five points with just one race remaining.
Hamilton’s victory, though, was delayed for 36 hours as a persistent storm hit central Mexico City.
“There’s something to say for absolutely screaming, shouting, shouting in the rain,” said Hamilton afterwards, adding that there was a “miracle” he held on to the title.
“I don’t know what it is. In less than two years at Mercedes, I’ve managed to put the team on my shoulders and push them to new heights. This team has become so much more than a car team. It’s a family.”
Hamilton also paid tribute to his staff in his emotional press conference.
“This team is going places. They are the backbone of my success.”
Hamilton has taken his tally of world titles to seven — one more than Schumacher and Ayrton Senna — since joining Mercedes in 2014.
The 33-year-old from Stevenage has now won 42 Formula One races from 121 starts, leaving him 13 behind Senna on the all-time list.
Hamilton now appears set to compete in his last season in F1, with the British driver due to turn his attention to the IndyCar Series in the United States.
Mercedes announced after the race that Hamilton will be replaced by Valtteri Bottas for the 2018 season, giving the Finn his first drive in Formula One since being appointed as Michael Schumacher’s replacement at Ferrari.
In his emotional news conference after the race, Hamilton also paid tribute to Brazilian Felipe Massa, the last driver to win a world title for the former world champions, in 2009.
Hamilton beat Massa, who raced for Ferrari between 2006 and 2012, by 16 points to win his fourth title in 2012.
The driver thanked Massa for the way he treated him when he raced for Mercedes, but also vowed he would be forever indebted to his former team-mate.
“To bring in a champion from a team I had to finish the season with. He was my brother. It was an honour to learn and be surrounded by men like him, the kind of men who really care about their sport.”