Formula 1 title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel came together in the opening lap of Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix in the latest – and seemingly deciding – twist in the championship race.
Vettel took pole on Saturday for Ferrari, knowing he realistically had to win in Mexico to stand any chance of keeping his title hopes alive heading into the final two races of the year. Hamilton, meanwhile, required only a top-five finish to clinch his fourth crown.
Vettel made a flying start from pole, only to come under pressure from Max Verstappen and Hamilton from P2 and P3 on the grid as they used the slipstream down the long front straight.
Verstappen was able to muscle his way past Vettel through Turn 2, with the pair making contact momentarily to break part of the Ferrari driver’s front wing.
While he was able to keep his foot in and fight for position, Vettel soon hit more trouble when Hamilton flew past exiting Turn 3, only for the pair to touch and both suffer damage.
A left-rear puncture forced Hamilton to slow and nurse his car back to the pits, while Vettel sustained severe damage to his front wing, prompting him to come in for a replacement.
The pair were left P19 and P20 at the end of the first lap, but with Vettel needing at least a top-two finish to keep his title hopes alive, the championship looks to have seen its final deciding moment in Mexico.