Lewis Hamilton has been crowned champion of the world for a record-equalling seventh time after he won a dramatic Turkish Grand Prix.
While those around him lost their cool, Hamilton delivered his best display of the season to claim his 10th win from 14 rounds and emulate Michael Schumacher’s all-time title haul with three rounds to spare.
Hamilton was running in fifth for much of an eventful race but used all of his experience to make his intermediate tyres last for 50 of the 58 laps to take the chequered flag a staggering 31.6 seconds clear of Sergio Perez, with Sebastian Vettel third and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc fourth.
Valtteri Bottas, the only man who could have prevented Hamilton from wrapping up the title here, endured a miserable afternoon, spinning twice and finishing 14th. Indeed, Hamilton put a lap on his crestfallen team-mate with a dozen laps to go.
Hamilton’s remarkable performance was befitting of a driver who can now claim to be the most decorated the sport has ever seen.
Schumacher won his seventh title at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2004. It was a record many thought would stand the test of time.
But 5,922 days later, Hamilton, the man who grew up on a Stevenage council estate, has now matched the great German with his sixth championship in seven stunning years. Hamilton also has more wins (94), more poles (97) and more podiums (163) than any driver who has gone before.
After defying the odds to take pole position here, Racing Point’s Lance Stroll led from team-mate Sergio Perez for much of the race.
But the Canadian’s afternoon began to unravel in the final third. Stroll’s intermediate tyres were shot and after defying the pit wall’s decision to stop for new rubber he eventually surrendered his lead on lap 37. He would finish ninth.
On the same lap as Stroll’s stop, Hamilton – now promoted to third after Vettel took on new tyres and Alexander Albon spun in his Red Bull – was suddenly in contention to win.
As he approached the 12th bend, Hamilton swooped round the outside of Perez to take the lead.
From there, the 35-year-old was in a class of one. On older tyres, he lapped the 3.3 miles of recently relayed asphalt at the Istanbul Park circuit consistently faster than anybody else.
It was a mesmerising performance that drew parallels with one of his finest afternoons behind the wheel of a Formula One machine, at Silverstone in 2008, when he romped to victory in similarly testing conditions.
He would go on to win his maiden title that year in Brazil. In a dozen years, it is a feat he has managed to achieve on six additional occasions and must now be considered among the greatest British sportspersons of all time.
Max Verstappen is the obvious heir to Hamilton’s throne, but where the Englishman rarely put a foot wrong on Sunday, the Red Bull man blew his chance of winning when he spun while battling Perez for second. He also had to stop for new tyres three times before crossing the line in sixth.
A tearful Hamilton stood on top of the machine that drove him to his seventh world championship before running over to embrace his team.
“I definitely am lost for words,” he said. “I think I have to start by saying a huge thank you to all the guys here and the factory for enabling me to have this opportunity.
“The journey we have been on is monumental. I want to say a big thank you to Team LH for sticking with me for all these years and then to my family.
“We dreamed of this when I was young, when we watched the grands prix and this is way, way beyond our dreams and it is so important for kids out there to dream the impossible. You have to work, chase, and never give up or doubt yourself.”
Hamilton gave an indication of his determination to carry on racing and to drive change within the sport.
He said: “I feel like I am only just getting started. I feel physically in great shape.
“I would love to stay and I feel like we’ve got a lot of work to do, to hold ourselves accountable as a sport.
“To realise that, we have got to face and not ignore the human rights issues that are around the countries that we go to and how can we engage with those countries and help them and empower them to do more to really change. I want to help Formula One and Mercedes with that journey.”