It was an anticlimactic finish to the race for the 2017 Formula 1 Championship; although the scenario necessary to make it otherwise was so improbable that it would have required unprecedented expectations to be otherwise.
Going into the Mexican Grand Prix, number two driver in the standings Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari needed to win this and the remaining two races to keep his hopes alive.
Not only that, be he needed leader Lewis Hamilton to score no more than nine points over the last three races. A Formula 1 race grid and 20 cars and the top 10 finishers in a race score points, so Hamilton could finish 10th in one race and eighth in two races and still accumulate enough points to win this third consecutive F1 title.
We are not sure which is the more improbable scenario – Vettel winning all three races or Hamilton failing to accumulate nine points in three races, but Vettel rendered the proposition moot by finishing the Mexican Grand Prix in fourth, which ended any hopeful speculation of the competition for the season points leader dead and buried.
The drivers and teams will therefore be racing for the fun of it when the series moves to Brazil for the Brazilian Grand Prix in November.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the race. Early contact between Hamilton and Vettel effectively eliminated those two from contention for the win. Vettel’s front-end body suffered serious damage that necessitated the entire assembly being swapped out. Hamilton came away from the encounter with a punctured tyre. He eventually worked his way back through the pack to wind up in ninth and become the lowest placed to ever secure the championship.
Perth native Daniel Ricciardo only completed a few of the 71-lap race, going out with a blown Renault engine after five laps. He had qualified seventh, but was moved back to 16th by a grid penalty. He passed seven cars on the first lap and got back to seventh on the next lap, but his day was soon over when his electrical system that harvests energy from the car’s turbocharger, failed to perform its role.