Lewis Hamilton: F1 title hopes still alive after Mexico GP
British driver celebrates his 51st Grand Prix win - but Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg still has a 19-point lead
Lewis Hamilton won the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend, but it is his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg who remains on pole position in the race for the F1 drivers' title after his second-place finish saw him retain a 19-point lead with only two races left.
Hamilton dominated the race despite another near disaster at the start. The British driver got away well but locked up on the approach to the first corner and was forced to take a detour across the grass.
However, he managed to escape punishment for cutting the corner and went on to win his 51st Grand Prix, putting him joint second with Alain Prost and behind Michael Schumacher on the all-time winners' list.
Rosberg, meanwhile, appeared content to sit in second place, secure in the knowledge he does not need to beat his Mercedes driver to win the title. Two more second places in the final two races of the season will be enough for him.
"Hamilton's fingers are slowly, one by one, being prised from the world championship trophy," says Kevin Eason of The Times. "If Rosberg wins the next race in Brazil, that is that. The German never looked like winning in Mexico but it doesn't matter; he can play the percentages now if he wants to."
The result "changes little", agrees Andrew Benson of the BBC: "Rosberg can now regroup after a weekend on which Hamilton was in almost total control throughout.
"The German will doubtless keep to his well-worn mantra that he is taking it one race at a time and trying to win each one, but he has the luxury of knowing he can afford to take it easy in both remaining races."
But while "the battle for victory was almost non-existent" in Mexico "there was a fractious fight for third", says Daniel Johnson of the Daily Telegraph.
"Normally it is the Mercedes duo who are at each other’s throats. Not here," he writes.
The race ended with a "furious slanging match between Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen", reports Johnson. "Swear words and insults flew at random."
All three drivers found themselves awarded third at different points.
Verstappen, the third driver home, was demoted to fifth place after being penalised for cutting a corner. Vettel, who spent the final moments of the race turning the air blue over the Dutchman's move, was the beneficiary - but then he himself was stripped of third after another investigation.
Three hours after the race finished, Ricciardo was handed the points as the third-placed driver.