Lewis Hamilton secured a record-equalling seventh Formula One world title on Sunday after winning the Turkish Grand Prix.
The Briton matched Michael Schumacher’s haul of drivers’ crowns with three races of the season remaining.
The defending champion was sixth in qualifying with his teammate Valtteri Bottas in ninth but finished the race top of the podium. This was the first time this season that neither Hamilton (nine) nor Bottas (four) have topped qualifying.
The 35-year-old sealed his latest title with a typically measured masterclass, handling treacherous wet early conditions to claim his 94th career win despite his unaccustomed start position.
A breathless Hamilton said: “I’m lost for words. This is way beyond my dreams.”
The superstar also dedicated his win to kids who dream the impossible.
Hamilton, who sealed his first title in 2008, was adding to his unprecedented roster of records – most wins with 94, most pole positions (97), most podium finishes (163) and most consecutive points finishes (47).
It was widely declared as one of his finest triumphs and entirely appropriate on the day he drew alongside Schumacher in the record books.
He lapped his team-mate and only remaining title rival Valtteri Bottas, who finished 14th after a desultory outing, to claim his 10th victory in 14 races this season.
Hamilton came home over half a minute clear of Sergio Perez for Racing Point. Both chose to make only one pit-stop and spend most of the race on a single set of intermediate tyres as their rivals pitted several times to cope with the slippery conditions.
Hamilton’s old rival, four-time former champion Sebastian Vettel, finished third ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz of McLaren and, after a wild and impulsive afternoon, Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull.
Alex Albon came home seventh in the second Red Bull ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren, Lance Stroll, who had started from his maiden pole position for Racing Point, and Daniel Ricciardo of Renault.
This latest triumph gave Hamilton an unassailable lead over Bottas, with two races in Bahrain and the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to come.
With doubts over his future in the sport, Hamilton later claimed he still had the hunger for more titles and paid tribute to his team and fans after a season in which he led his sport in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started. Physically, I’m in great shape. And mentally this year has been really hard for millions of people and it’s no different for us athletes,” he said.
“This has been a challenge that I didn’t know how to get through, but with the help of Team LH I managed to get through.”
(With AFP inputs)
Turkish Formula One Grand Prix results from Istanbul on Sunday:
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1hr 42mins 19.313sec, 2. Sergio Perez (MEX/Racing Point-Mercedes) at 31.633sec, 3. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) 31.960, 4. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 33.858, 5. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/McLaren-Renault) 34.363, 6. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda) 44.873, 7. Alexander Albon (THA/Red Bull-Honda) 46.484, 8. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Renault) 1min 01.259sec, 9. Lance Stroll (CAN/Racing Point-Mercedes) 1:12.353, 10. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Renault) 1:35.460, 11. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Renault) one lap, 12. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/AlphaTauri-Honda) one lap, 13. Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda) one lap, 14. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) one lap, 15. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari) one lap, 16. George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes) one lap, 17. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) three laps
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 307 pts – champion, 2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 197, 3. Max Verstappen (NED) 170, 4. Sergio Perez (MEX) 100, 5. Charles Leclerc (MON) 97, 6. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 96, 7. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 75, 8. Lando Norris (GBR) 74, 9. Alexander Albon (THA) 70, 10. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 63, 11. Lance Stroll (CAN) 59, 12. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 40, 13. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 33, 14. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) 26, 15. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) 10, 16. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 4, 17. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) 4, 18. Romain Grosjean (FRA) 2, 19. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 1
1. Mercedes 504 pts – champions, 2. Red Bull-Honda 240, 3. Racing Point-Mercedes 154, 4. McLaren-Renault 149, 5. Renault 136, 6. Ferrari 130, 7. AlphaTauri-Honda 89, 8. Alfa Romeo Racing-Ferrari 8, 9. Haas-Ferrari 3