Lewis Hamilton has equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles with a third triumph in Mexico after finishing second to title-rival Sebastian Vettel in Mexico City on Sunday.
Vettel won the race to send the race title “to hell,” as he put it, but Hamilton took the chequered flag second to make history.
The 36-year-old, who will move back to Mercedes next season to replace the retiring Valtteri Bottas, pushed Vettel all the way to defend the lead, but the title was secured with a 9.4-second penalty for Max Verstappen and a 14-second stop-go penalty for Vettel.
Hamilton’s win was his 64th in total, surpassing Schumacher’s 62.
He joined McLaren’s Alain Prost and German Schumacher as the only drivers to have won at least three world titles and have finished in the top three in at least 10 races on six occasions.
However, Hamilton would not be able to achieve the record outright, because of his age. He was now 34, while Schumacher was 35 when he won his seventh title in 2006, then turned his attentions to an eighth in 2011, at the age of 38.
Vettel denied Hamilton the chance to become the first driver since Prost in 1992 to win all four rounds of the season after they had traded the lead throughout Mexico City, with Vettel finishing 0.434 seconds ahead.
“The target in all of this was not to win today,” said Hamilton. “It was to beat Sebastian. I think today could not have gone any better. I was really rooting for him to do his best.
“I felt like one of my buddies, I felt like the best friend I could be in this race. I had my little brother with me, the cousins, my sons.
“The amazing thing is that it feels like it’s been 28 years and it feels like it’s yesterday when we won that championship. Now to share this title with all of you guys makes it a little bit sweeter.”
Vettel said: “It is not easy to follow such a talented rival. We competed for 250 laps. I think it is a great conclusion to a race and an end to a great season. I have enjoyed it and I’m really happy that I’m going home as a winner with three world titles. It was fun out there today. Lewis made it very difficult for us.
“I don’t feel much pain at the moment. I’m going to get a lot of pats on the back and look forward to spending some time with the family. It’s not going to be a quiet weekend, but it’s the start of the new campaign and the start of the new season.
“This season has been a privilege, a gift from the fans and I’m glad that I’ve been able to deliver for them. I give all the credit to Lewis for the great season he’s had. We know where it all started and what it all means.”