Britain's Lewis Hamilton closed the gap on championship leader Nico Rosberg at the summit of the drivers’ standings with a commanding victory at the Mexico Grand Prix as a major row erupted between Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen.
Hamilton is now 19 points adrift of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg with two races of the season remaining in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. A win for Rosberg at Interlagos in two weeks’ time would clinch a maiden championship for the German.
With 50 points still available, Rosberg could also secure the title by finishing second behind Hamilton in the two races. For the time being, the 31-year-old moved alongside Alain Prost on the all-time winners’ list after sealing his 51st grand prix success.
“It’s never too late and history has shown that it’s never too late,” said Hamilton. “I’m driving with every bit of energy and heart that I have. I’m not giving up.”
Red Bull’s Verstappen crossed the line in third place but was relegated to fifth after being handed a five-second elapsed penalty for leaving the track at turn one and refusing to give the place to Vettel, who was promoted to the podium.
Vettel resorted to fuming over the radio, using several expletives, at race referee Charlie Whiting in anger at the situation, while the German and Verstappen gesticulated at each other at the end of the race. Vettel later apologised to Whiting.
Verstappen said: “It is ridiculous what he did and then he starts shouting on the radio. I don’t know how many times he used very bad language. He is just a very frustrated guy at the moment.”
Vettel retorted: “I had reason to be angry.”