Hamilton’s 4th title ranks him among F1’s great drivers

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Lewis Hamilton is driving his name toward the top levels of Formula One’s record books. The final word on his standing among F1’s greatest drivers is still to come, but with four championships, he’s made a strong argument he belongs among the very best.

Hamilton won his fourth career championship Sunday with his ninth-place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix. A tough race didn’t produce the podium celebration he wanted, but clinching the title with his lowest finish of the season and two races to go defined a year in which he fought off an early challenge from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel .

This championship, along with his first in 2008, should quiet some of those who argue Hamilton is F1’s master of good fortune, a driver who won titles on the strength of a car no one outside the Mercedes garage could match.

“It’s been a long journey these past 10 years,” Hamilton said. “It’s crazy to think I continue to put the Hamilton stamp, the Hamilton name, in the history books. Beyond my time there will be kids that know the name, and that’s probably what I’m most proud of.”

Hamilton’s 2017 title ties him with Vettel and Alain Prost as four-time winners. Juan Manuel Fangio won five, and Michael’s Schumacher’s seven championships still tower over the sport.

Could Hamilton push for Schumacher’s record? He’s 32 and said he wants to keep racing. With both he and Vettel still driving in the front, many pages of the record book could still be re-written.

“I’ll continue to race while I love it,” Hamilton said. “I think there’s more in me.”

This championship pushed Hamilton past the three won by his idol, Aryton Senna, who was killed in a crash in Italy in 1994 and is regarded as one of F1’s greatest and most skillful drivers. It also puts him ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart for the most titles won by a British driver. After Sunday’s race, Hamilton grabbed a British Union Jack and waived it on a “victory” lap before draping it over his shoulders as he celebrated.

Stewart credits Hamilton’s seat in a dominant Mercedes car as the key ingredient to his success. Stewart won his titles in 1969, 1971 and 1973.

“If you have the right car at the right time, it’s not very difficult to win the world championship. If you continue to have the best car, you continue to win the world championship, like Sebastian did, like Schumacher did,” Stewart told The Associated Press.

“In my era, we had a lucky time. Most of us drove the Ford engine, so there was no difference between one or another and they were relatively small teams winning the world championship. The competition was more even. Now I don’t think anyone would say Mercedes hasn’t been totally dominant, and before them Red Bull.

“Take Fangio, who drove so consistently in Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Mercedes. He just went in and did it with great style,” Stewart said.

Mercedes has been dominant.

Hamilton won his first championship with McLaren and his other with Mercedes. Of his 62 career victories, which rank second to Schumacher’s 91, 40 have come since 2014 when F1 adopted its current turbo hybrid engines.

When Hamilton didn’t win in 2016, his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg did. Those two fought pitched battles for the championship in 2014 and 2015 that ruined a childhood friendship and tested Hamilton’s nerves inside his own team.

But Hamilton wants credit for his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes in 2013 with an eye on the future. While Mercedes has dominated, McLaren has flailed around the middle or the back of the pack.

“I wonder how many people thought it was the worst move to Mercedes?” Hamilton said Sunday. “Isn’t it cool to see someone take a risk like I did and it to come out the way it has?”

Hamilton and Vettel have raced in a much safer era than previous greats. Many of F1’s safety reforms came after Senna was killed. Hamilton said last week that Senna would have won more titles if safety conditions were better.

“The nervousness on the starting grid is a shadow of what it was,” Stewart said. “Everybody has their own era. Lewis, it’s his era.”

Hamilton’s contemporary, Williams driver Felipe Massa, counts Hamilton among the best. The Brazilian has raced against Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton, and it was Hamilton’s last lap in Sao Paolo that beat Massa to the championship in 2008.

“Lewis is definitely one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1,” Massa said. “He’s there.”

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso called Hamilton a “champion of his generation.” The former two-time champion and Hamilton were teammates in 2007 when the rookie Hamilton upstaged Alonso and finished second in the championship by a single point.

“He won races when the car was good, and when it was not so good,” Alonso said.

Hamilton’s legacy among F1’s giants may also be measured by his impact beyond the sport. He’s an international celebrity with a persona like a rock star. He’s a world traveler even outside of Formula One’s far-flung locations and his social media presence draws millions of followers.

Emerson Fittipaldi, who won championships in 1972 and 1974, said Hamilton is the star and winner Formula One needs.

“As an ambassador for Formula One, he is incredible. He reaches a broader public than anyone else can reach,” Fittipaldi said. “We need a champion like Lewis.”

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

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With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list