Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari are left to rue several reliability issues after Lewis Hamilton claimed a fourth world title at Sunday’s Mexico Grand Prix.
Vettel was in a battle with Hamilton - he led the Mercedes driver by seven points after the Belgian Grand Prix in August, the 12th race of the season - before his challenge faltered away.
The German started at the back of the field in Malaysia following engine problems to his car and retired from the Japan GP due to a defective €59 sparkplug.
And Hamilton made the most of Vettel’s problems, winning five out of six races to establish a healthy lead which he turned into a championship title in Mexico.
Hamilton started third on the grid at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez but was forced into a premature pit stop after a collision with Vettel at turn three.
It prompted Hamilton to ask his team whether Vettel had hit him on purpose. The two were cordial after the race, with the Ferrari driver congratulating Hamilton on his success, but anyone who thinks that’s the end of the rivalry is fooling themselves.
Hamilton complained about Vettel in drivers' briefing
Indeed, Hamilton was complaining about Vettel before the race got underway.
The drivers’ pre-race briefing always makes for interesting viewing and it was no different after the Mexico Grand Prix.
The briefing is used as a chance for drivers to raise any concerns about the previous race - in this case, it was the USA Grand Prix - and Hamilton took the chance to question a moment involving Vettel.
Hamilton was upset as he believed Vettel gained an advantage after running wide out of turn 9, and he let FIA race director Charlie Whiting know about it.
“I have a question,” Hamilton told Whiting.
“Just after my pitstop, Sebastian deliberately ran wide out of turn 9 and gained a lot of time on the GPS, but it had no penalty.”
Whiting replied: “We didn’t see that on the sector that I was just describing to Felipe. We saw a .3 improvement in lap time but everyone saw it.”
Hamilton: “If you saw an improvement, that’s an advantage, so…”
Whiting: “We saw a 0.3 second improvement…”
Hamilton interjects: “Which is an is advantage, which is an improvement, so…”
Whiting: “He didn’t gain a time in that corner where he went off, that’s the point.”
Hamilton: “Maybe we can send you the GPS because it’s massively different. I think it’s like K’s up all through that corner, knowingly.”
Whiting then reaffirms his belief that Vettel didn’t gain an advantage, which Hamilton appears to accept.
At least now he can get round to celebrating.