Mercedes driver emulated Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win fifth world title, and by looks of it he has more good years left in him
It was Lewis Hamilton's best season but his Formula One dominance sees no signs of abating
Friday will be the 10th anniversary of when Lewis Hamilton first joined the pantheon of Formula One world champions.
He did it in thrilling fashion, overtaking Timo Glock’s Toyota at the final corner in Brazil to claim the title in his McLaren by a single point from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Fast forward a decade and the Briton on Sunday highlighted just how much he has evolved as a racing driver as he became only the third five-time champion in the sport’s history in Mexico.
It had none of the drama of that famous afternoon in Brazil. He drove to fourth place, struggling with high tyre wear in his Mercedes-GP, as Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dominated to triumph.
For Hamilton not to win the championship on Sunday he needed to either finish no better than eighth or for Sebastian Vettel to win the race.
Neither scenario was ever in danger of happening, not that has been any real doubt over the past six weeks that the title was going anywhere other than Hamilton’s trophy cabinet.
The finale 10 years ago is one of the most revered in the sport’s history due to the excitement and unpredictability of it.
Hamilton was only in his second year of F1 at the time, and he was fortunate to prevail in a year in which he had a number of incidents, including crashing in the pit lane.
There has been none of that drama in 2018 largely because Hamilton has put in such a complete campaign in terms of performance.
This has been Hamilton’s best season in the sport as he hardly put a wheel wrong of note all year and has capitalised on every opportunity that has come his way.
He and Mercedes have been the dominant force in F1 in the turbo engine era of the sport. The German marque have won the past five championships, with this latest one Hamilton’s fourth with them.
But, they have not had it their own way for much of the season as Vettel and Ferrari have often been the fastest package.
Yet Hamilton is 64 points clear with only two races to go and he can afford to enjoy Brazil on November 11 and the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 25 with the title in the bag.
When Hamilton has been at the front he has triumphed in style. When he has not been fastest he has kept the pressure on and so often Vettel or his Ferrari team has cracked.
There has been fortune. Wet weather helped him in Germany and Hungary, and there has been the aforementioned blunders of his main rivals.
But, Hamilton capitalised on everything that came his way. It is all very well having the opportunity but you have to take it and the winner of 71 races in his career has done just that.
Mexico was a demonstration of Hamilton’s maturity. He ran second early on, but never tried to fight with Verstappen, knowing the Dutchman was quicker.
He did not even tussle with Vettel, allowing the Ferrari man a fairly straightforward pass when the two had a brief duel mid-race.
It was not a victorious climax, but it did not need to be and it should not detract from an excellent overall effort.
Hamilton effectively won this season for his run of six wins in seven races between Germany in July and Japan in October.
His level was far too good for Vettel and what had looked like being a close finish instead became almost a walkover.
Only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have experienced what Hamilton has now done.
Fangio retired with five to his name in 1958 and Schumacher had seven when he retired in 2012, and it will be the latter’s record haul that is the next objective for Hamilton.
Given the speed and strength of the Mercedes package it will be a shock if the Briton is not a major contender for title No 6 in 2019.
Hamilton is signed up to the sport to the end of 2020 at least with his current employers and he could very conceivably be celebrating equalling Schumacher’s record in 24 months time.
Sunday was another milestone moment for Hamilton but the ominous sign for the rest of the drivers is that much more could still be on the horizon in the coming months.