Lewis Hamilton clinched a seventh World Championship and became the most successful racing driver ever with a masterful victory in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver equalled Michael Schumacher’s achievement in terms of titles, after already surpassing the German’s number of race wins last month.
Victory at a treacherously wet and slippery Istanbul Park track in a topsy-turvy race was the 94th of the 35-year-old Briton’s career.
As he received the congratulations of his team, Hamilton was almost overcome with emotion in the car after the race, saying: “To all the kids out there, dream the impossible.”
How Hamilton won it in style
It was a drive befitting the monumental nature of Hamilton’s achievement.
Hamilton trod carefully in the opening stages of the race and even made a couple of small mistakes as the drivers fought for grip in the wet conditions.
But the race opened up for him at around half-distance as he once again made decisive strategy calls on tyres from the cockpit and drove with the skill and class that has enabled him to put himself in this position.
The Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez dominated the opening stages, but began to be caught by a train of three cars, with Sebastian Vettel at its back, as the track slowly dried.
Red Bull’s Alex Albon was running third, ahead of Vettel’s Ferrari and Hamilton.
Ferrari pitted Vettel for fresh tyres on lap 33, having seen how quickly team-mate Charles Leclerc was going on his fresh intermediates, and then Albon spun at Turn Four.
That gave Hamilton a clean run to attack the Racing Points and he told his team: “Don’t box [pit] me, man.”
Despite Stroll saying he did not want to change tyres, Racing Point did pit the Canadian on lap 36, removing him from the lead and, shortly afterwards, Hamilton took the lead from Perez and never looked back.
Hamilton and Perez stayed out on worn tyres, as the Mercedes driver pulled away in the lead, his only concern being whether his worn intermediate tyres would last.
And it was put into stark perspective by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn went into the race knowing he had to out-score Hamilton by at least eight points to keep the championship alive. But he had a dreadful day, spinning at least five times and finishing 14th, lapped by Hamilton.
When told there were four laps left late in the race, a downcast Bottas said: “I wish it was less.”
What happened to Stroll?
It was a heartbreaking day for Stroll, who led for the first 36 laps only to see his race unravel after he made his stop for fresh tyres.
But while the Canadian could not make the new tyres work on his car, and slumped to ninth at the end, a second pit stop mid-race worked well for both Ferrari drivers.
Perez hung on to second. He was passed by Leclerc on the final lap, only for the Monegasque to slide wide at the final chicane, allowing team-mate Vettel through into the final podium position, his first of the season.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pushed Perez hard early on, but a spin at the kink on the back straight ended his hopes.
Driver of the day
Who else? Hamilton was in a class of his own, cautious when necessary, reading the race and pouncing when it mattered – before taking control. Driver of his generation.
What happens next?
Hamilton has clinched the title with three races still to go, two in Bahrain starting in two weeks’ time and then a finale in Abu Dhabi in mid-December.