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SAO PAULO. — New five-time world Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton steered his Mercedes to a nail-biting victory in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, a triumph that clinched the constructors’ championship for a fifth consecutive season for the team.
The 33-year-old Briton took advantage of a collision that cost Max Verstappen the lead in the closing stages to regain the initiative and then hang on with worn tyres as the Red Bull came home second.
Kimi Raikkonen finished third on his 150th start for Ferrari ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull, Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel who came home sixth for Ferrari.
The result ended Ferrari’s hopes of stopping Mercedes’ title triumph, brought Hamilton his tenth win of the year and 72nd of his career.
It was also the first time he had won a late-season race after winning the drivers’ title.
Charles Leclerc finished seventh for Sauber ahead of the two Haas cars driven by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen with Sergio Perez 10th for Force India. And Hamilton says his and Mercedes’ fifth world championship is only the beginning as the Silver Arrows plot further domination of F1.
Two weeks after Hamilton secured the Drivers’ Championship at the Mexican GP, Hamilton’s victory in Brazil confirmed Mercedes’ coronation as Constructors’ Championship for a fifth successive season.
“I want to continue to help elevate Mercedes to make them the most successful brand of all-time,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
Ferrari remain the most successful team in F1 history with 16 titles.
“I am so proud to have been part of it – and here’s to many, many more,” added Hamilton.
“They give me the tools and I try to do the best I can with it. I’m proud that I’m able to do sometimes bring a little bit more than is needed or that it’s capable of, but that’s what I live for.”
In an awed eulogy to the Silver Arrows star driver, technical boss James Allison paid a fulsome tribute to Hamilton.
“You have to say that this year Lewis has made the difference for us,” Allison told Sky F1.
“He keeps putting it on pole, when it’s wet he’s always at the front, and in the races we can make mistakes and he will recover it by doing something on the track that nobody saw coming, and he spends the whole year not making a mistake.
“He is the consummate racing driver.”
In a rare interview, Peter Bonnington, Hamilton’s race engineer, added: “It has been an awesome year and he has driven perfectly. “It has been unreal journey and l would love for it continue. “
Mercedes have won a championship double in every season since 2014 but believe this was their toughest triumph yet.
“It was a very difficult season, “said team boss Toto Wolff. “But that makes the championship victory all the more enjoyable.”
On Sunday, the decisive moment came on lap 44 of the 71-lap race when Vertstappen clashed with Esteban Ocon’s Force India in the Senna S curves as the Frenchman attempted to un-lap himself. Ocon was penalised by the stewards with a 10-second stop-go penalty.
“I hope I cannot find him now in the paddock,” said a livid Verstappen, whose further TV comments were bleeped out.
“I don’t know what to say,” he added later. “I was taken out by an idiot – I have no words.”
Hamilton said: “It was an honour to drive for them (Mercedes) today. I saw it happen. I wasn’t surprised by it. I saw them racing and they weren’t racing for the same position.”