Sebastian Vettel praised Lewis Hamilton by calling him “the better man” after the Briton matched his tally of four drivers’ championships at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Hamilton only needed a top-five finish to clinch the championship in Mexico City, but early contact with Vettel gave him a puncture that dropped him to the back of the field. With Vettel suffering front wing damage Ferrari also had to make a pit stop on the opening lap, and although the German recovered to fourth place he needed a top-two finish to keep the title fight alive.
“It’s a tough day,” Vettel said. “Even if the points and so on coming here didn’t look great, still you always believe until the last lap. I didn’t think anything else other than try to do everything I can. You always hope something happens. Then you have to face the fact that it’s over. I think in general, it’s irrelevant what happened today. If you want to look at the race, then yes, but it’s not about that today.
“Lewis won the world championship today and that is the most important thing and what you should write in your paper, blog whatever it is. I stick to that because that shines brighter in my point of view than anything else that happened. He deserves that. He did a good job, did a strong season and was overall a better man.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 29, 2017
Asked about the first-lap contact with Hamilton that occurred after Vettel had also clipped the rear of race winner Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, Vettel replied: “As I said, what does it change?
“I fought as hard as I could. I was compromised with the wing change in the beginning. From then, I wasn’t thinking where we could go. You never know what happens, a Safety Car or whatever. I think we did the best we could. It’s not an easy place, not an easy race, but it’s not that important now.
“We had a straight fight. The car has been great for us this year, as well for them. But I don’t want to be quoted in any way taking any glory away from him. He deserves every bit of it. Two races to go, he seals the championship. He deserves to win. In a straight fight, he was the better man and therefore, congratulations.”