F1: 'The vehicle is cursed' - Ricciardo vents after second-straight DNF

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Getty Images

"Absolutely, it's definitely been the best year", he said.

But Hamilton and Mercedes knew a place in the top seven was all that was needed to take the title and, although he continued to complain of problems with the auto, that outcome never really looked in doubt.

"I always believed we could win this championship, but it was one of the toughest", Hamilton said.

Hamilton went on to talk about his own father Anthony, who famously worked multiple jobs to fund Lewis' karting career and propel him up the motor racing ladder.

This was a race the champion-in-waiting dominated from start to finish after he claimed his 80th career pole and he converted it into a 50th race win for the Mercedes team.

His achievement was in the shade of Hamilton gaining the points necessary to remain top of the sport in 2018, but speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Verstappen said that he is looking at how close the team can get to Mercedes next season.

Ricciardo then had a disaster start from pole as Verstappen and Hamilton flew past him to lead the way from the Australian and Vettel, who refrained from taking huge risks. The straight line power of his nosed his vehicle in front until Verstappen cut under him at the first corner. Red Bull will be switching to Honda engines.

Verstappen wasn't giving any ground.

Hamilton could afford to back off and his primary goal was to avoid trouble.

A four-time champion himself, Vettel opened the season with a strong charge of two straight victories only to see Mercedes snatch wins while their own vehicle faded for a long stretch.

Hamilton said he'd like to go for a win to punctuate a season championship, but he doesn't give himself much of a chance to do that Sunday.

"But it has been a long, long year and it wasn't won today; it was won by an accumulation of great races from us as a team so I am just thankful for everyone's help and support".

The Mercedes technical director, James Allison, despite admitting the race had been hard for the team was also generous in his praise.

"He drove superb all year".

"Obviously not an easy day", said Vettel. "Five (championships) is something incredible". I congratulated him, and told him to keep pushing for next year, as I need him good to fight him again. He was in a furious fight to hold off Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel for second until smoke billowed from the back of his auto with nine laps to go and he surrendered. "The pressure that he would be under ... that's a lot to ride on one's shoulders".

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