Sebastian Vettel has praised Lewis Hamilton on “a superb job” in clinching a fourth World Championship and said he “deserved” to win the title.
Vettel and Hamilton both had very ugly races in Mexico after coming into contact after the first corner and needing to pit after just lap one with damage to both cars.
Vettel recovered to P4, but Hamilton, who asked his team whether Vettel deliberately crashed into him, came home P9 which was enough to win the title.
“It’s disappointing,” said Vettel on his chaotic opening in Mexico.
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“It’s not that important what we have done today, it’s more important what Lewis has done and he’s done a superb job all year round and deserves to win the title.
“Congratulations to him. It’s not about anybody else today. It’s about him. It’s his day.
“He’s on a par [with me] if you can count.
“I don’t fear him, I like racing with him but I would have liked a little bit more of that this year. Overall they were just the better bunch.”
Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said that Vettel would have been penalised for hitting Hamilton on the opening lap if the World Championship had not been on the line.
Vettel and Verstappen came into contact as the Dutchman pushed through for the race lead, with Vettel going backwards with a damaged nose.
As he did so, he then came into contact with Hamilton, who picked up a puncture as a result and left both rivals needing to pit after the first lap.
“I hated every bit of that race,” Mercedes boss Wolff told Sky F1. “It was really bad and too long.
“I think we were rattled after the beginning, the crash.
“In the car you don’t know what’s happening, is Sebastian still in the race? Can he score points? After a while we explained the situation to him and we were all focused on making the best out of it.”
You have this massive gap in points and people say ‘it’s done’ but it’s not. It’s motor racing and then you have this incident and Sebastian could have won and we could have DNF’d.
“The championship is at stake and I think in normal conditions there would have been a penalty. But it’s the final race and the [title] decider.
Wolff then said it was a huge relief to wrap up both titles.
He added: “Max knew there was so much at stake for the other two. For Lewis and Sebastian it’s extremely difficult because you have to win the race and if you bail out of everything then it’s not what we are here for.”
“The relief is huge. During the race you have mixed feelings, it’s bittersweet because you’re not where you should be. You could lose it and then it drags to Sao Paulo. It’s a big relief now.
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