Mexico Result 'Bitter Sweet' for Red Bull after Ricciardo Retirement - Horner

Lewis Hamilton can’t finish any lower than seventh if he’s to claim the crown this weekend. Pic GettyMore

Lewis Hamilton can’t finish any lower than seventh if he’s to claim the crown this weekend. Pic GettyMore

The devastation marked the eighth time this season the 29-year-old's efforts were dashed by forces out of his control, and while initially sympathising with Ricciardo, Horner went a step further and publicly apologised on behalf of the team.

Former driver David Coulthard, who was conducting the interview with Vettel, took to social media to offer his congratulations, as did Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. "He was the better one of us two", Vettel said. "We had a very bad race we need to understand and in our mind that plays such a big role, but we should be happy with the championship". Vettel was set to turn pole into his third win until a rash passing move on Valterri Bottas resulted in his Ferrari locking up.

He got a poor start, and the young Dutchman capitalised, as did Lewis Hamilton from the second row, knowing that a top seven finish would be enough to secure him the drivers' championship.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, of Britain, steers his vehicle during the Formula One Mexico Grand Prix auto race at the Hermanos Rodriguez racetrack in Mexico City, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.

Asked whether he thought he would have the pace to beat the Red Bulls on Sunday, he replied: "I don't think so".

Hamilton's title triumph was watched by a sell-out 135,000 crowd at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with the Mexican race proving a runaway hit since it returned to the calendar in 2015.

"Today's race was not the best way to finish the season for Mercedes in a race like that, but whatever, it doesn't matter - who cares", he added.

"All eyes have been on Verstappen, he's dominated all the sessions but when it mattered most, Ricciardo delivered", racing expert Martin Brundle said.

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"I'm just glad that I was able to do the job on my second run".

But a Ferrari resurgence of late only worsens the frustration of a championship lost.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third, meaning the constructors' championship remained open at least until the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks' time with Mercedes' lead trimmed. Vettel might have won if not for a three-spot starting grid penalty for driving too fast under a red flag in practice.

While there may be 22 per cent less oxygen here at the high-altitude Mexico City venue, some 2,200 metres above sea level, Hamilton kept his cool on a manic stampede to the opening bend.

After the finish, Vettel got out of his vehicle and approached Hamilton to congratulate him.

I really do aspire to be like him as a strong black man and as a father and as a human being, doing what he did in the hard times and with the little that he had, I think that's testament to where we are.

"I congratulated him, I think he drove superbly all year and was the better one of us two".

Hamilton could have let the Red Bulls ride off from the start, but he took a shot at the lead when by slipping into a gap between them. "The pressure that he would be under. that's a lot to ride on one's shoulders".

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