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Hamilton: Fourth F1 world championship win ‘doesn’t feel real’

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Lewis Hamilton has been crowned Formula 1 world champion for a fourth time after finishing ninth in an eventful Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday, moving into an unassailable points lead with two races remaining this season.

Mercedes driver Hamilton came together with title rival Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap, leaving both cars with damage that forced them to pit early and drop to the back of the field.

Vettel was able to fight his way back up to fourth at the checkered flag, and while Hamilton could only recover to ninth, it was enough to clinch his fourth F1 crown.

“I did everything I could,” a breathless Hamilton told David Coulthard after the race following celebratory donuts in the Foro Sol stadium section.

“I had a good start. Not sure what happened at Turn 3. I tried as hard as I could to come back. Big thank you to my family, my team, Mercedes. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

“Honestly it doesn’t feel real man. This isn’t the race I want. 40 seconds behind. But never gave up. I kept going right until the end.

“I just want to lift it up to my family, God and my team.”

The success sees Hamilton re-claim the drivers’ crown he lost to former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016, and follows previous championship wins in 2008, 2014 and 2015.

Hamilton is just the fifth driver in history to win four F1 titles, following Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Vettel.

Hamilton also now undisputedly stands clear as the most successful British driver in F1 history, exceeding Jackie Stewart’s tally of three world titles.

Hamilton, having had 20 or so minutes to reflect when speaking to NBCSN in the pen a bit later, reflected a bit further.

“Today was such an unusual race. I told you I wasn’t going to go easy at the start. I’d give it everything,” Hamilton told NBCSN. “I didn’t think I was too aggressive. I think I placed my car in a perfect place. Not sure why he hit me. I’ll watch the replay.

“I got knocked down. All I could think was get knocked down, and keep going. I never gave up. I kept pushing right to the flag. That’s what I’m most proud of. A big thank you to my team. I wouldn’t have won any of these races without Mercedes supporting me.

“To do it in Mexico… with all these difficult times, it’s a great day to do so. Brackley, Brixworth, so many people… I’m a small link in the chain.

Hamilton added his respect for Vettel after their season-long battle.

“He’s a worthy World Champion. A worthy competitor. Someone I appreciate as a champion,” he said.

“Regardless of what happened throughout the year, and today I’m not sure what happened, I value him as an exceptional champion. To win against someone as good as him means a lot.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”