Lewis Hamilton had to overcome a puncture in the first lap of the Mexican Grand Prix before claiming a fourth world title.
The British driver was shunted off the track on turn three by none other than Sebastian Vettel, his closest challenger for the title, prompting a controversial response from Hamilton.
“Did he hit me deliberately?” Hamilton asked his team over the radio.
Vettel needed a miracle if he was to have any chance of beating Hamilton to the 2017 Drivers’ Championship but the German, who watched the Mercedes driver tie his tally of four titles, was graceful in defeat.
"It's more important what Lewis has done and he's done a superb job all year round and deserves to win the title,” Vettel, who was also seen applauding Hamilton from his car, said, per Sky Sports.
"Congratulations to him. It's not about anybody else today. It's about him. It's his day."
Mercedes must have been relieved when Hamilton emerged with just a right-rear puncture from his collision with Vettel.
He entered the pits and came out in last position before steering his car to a ninth-placed finish.
Watch: Hamilton and Vettel collide
Niki Lauda is unimpressed with Vettel
One man not ready to overlook Vettel’s involvement in the incident is Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, who said he couldn’t “understand” why the Ferrari driver was so aggressive.
“An unusual way to be world champion but you are world champion very simple,” Lauda said. “Nobody cares how you do it.
"What I don't understand is the aggressive manoeuvre from Vettel in the first corners. It hit Lewis hard and it was not his fault at all and his drama started.
“I don't know why Sebastian drove so aggressively to destroy his race and Lewis'. Lewis was in front and [Vettel] hit him with his front wing, I just don't understand it.”
It wouldn’t matter in the end. Hamilton finished ninth, Vettel fourth, and Mercedes were left to party into the night.
With the pair now tied on four titles, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen enjoying another impressive season, the 2018 season is set up to be a thriller.
What are your thoughts on Hamilton's clash with Vettel? Let us know in the comments section below!
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