The 33-year-old Mercedes star has now drawn level with Juan Manuel Fangio, and is just two short of Michael Schumacher’s record, but in a dramatic race, won by Max Verstappen, he ran off the road while defending third place from Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton, who needed to finish only seventh at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to beat Sebastian Vettel to the title with two rounds to spare, spent much of the race at odds with his Mercedes team as he struggled for pace.
But, just as in Mexico City last year, Hamilton did enough to win the championship, his fourth in five quite remarkable years. Ferrari’s Vettel finished second.
While there may be 22 per cent less oxygen here at the high-altitude Mexico City venue, some 2,200 metres above sea level, Hamilton kept his cool on a manic stampede to the opening bend.
Starting in third, the Briton was the fastest out of his marks, and cut through the middle of Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen to momentarily take the lead on the 220mph, 900-yard charge to the first braking zone.
With the championship on his mind, and the opening three corners the biggest threat to his historic quest, a cautious Hamilton took no risks, decelerating faster than Verstappen, and who could blame him?
Hamilton slotted in behind the Dutchman, with pole-sitter Ricciardo dropping to third. Behind, Vettel, knowing that he had to win to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton, held off a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas, the pair even banging wheels at Turn 3, both escaping without damage.
For Hamilton, second would comfortably be enough, but the man who had shown no signs of strain – despite carrying the weight of history on his shoulders – was soon complaining about his fragile tyres.
Then, he snapped at his race engineer, Pete Bonnington, telling him to leave him to it. It would become a theme of the race.
With Verstappen galloping into the distance, and Hamilton losing time to his rivals behind, he was the first of the leaders to stop for fresh rubber on lap 11.
Hamilton started a trend, with Ricciardo and Verstappen following suit on laps 12 and 13. Vettel, running longer, stayed out, and it was not long before Kimi Raikkonen, in the sister Ferrari and out of sync with those around him, was holding up Hamilton.
On lap 17, Hamilton was fixed on Raikkonen’s gearbox, with the Finn struggling on worn tyres. There were hearts in mouths in the Mercedes garage, as Hamilton came within inches of touching Raikkonen as they slammed on the anchors for Turn 1, before the Brit held his nerve on the outside of the left-handed Turn 2, to make his way past the Ferrari at the ensuing right-hander.
Hamilton now just needed to keep his Mercedes on the tarmac, but, it is never easy with Hamilton, and it was not long before he was on the radio again, bemoaning his tyres.
In contrast, Vettel was flying, and after passing Ricciardo, he was straight on to Hamilton’s Mercedes. On lap 39, he whizzed past his rival for second.
“The left front tyre is going to be bald,” Hamilton moaned over the radio. “Why did you give me the wrong tyres, man,” he yelled.
Vettel had pulled out a staggering 12 seconds over Hamilton in just six laps, and the Briton was soon defending from Ricciardo.
As they roared down to Turn 1, Hamilton then locked up his front-left tyre, and in a plume of white smoke, ran on to the grass. The 110,000 spectators crammed into this unique track groaned and roared in equal measure.
Hamilton gingerly made his way back on to the circuit. “These tyres are dead,” he yelled. His crew ran into the pits, and Hamilton stopped for a second time. He would rejoin in fifth.
From there, Hamilton just made sure he got his car over the line, and was promoted one place after Ricciardo’s engine blew up with 10 laps remaining.
Verstappen claimed a dominant win ahead of Vettel, too little too late by the German with his best display since the summer break. Raikkonen completed the podium places.
Daniel Ricciardo denied Max Verstappen the chance to become the youngest man in Formula One history to claim pole position after beating his Red Bull team-mate with a sensational flying lap in Mexico.
The rampant Red Bulls locked out the front row in a thrilling qualifying session, while Lewis Hamilton, who needs to finish only seventh on Sunday to claim the world championship, qualified third.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who must win here to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton from claiming this year’s honours, finished behind his rival in fourth.
Verstappen, 21, had dominated all weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but he was beaten in the dying moments by Ricciardo, the Australian claiming his first pole at a track other than Monaco and only the third of his career.
Verstappen was clearly frustrated by the result, bumping the second-place board as he arrived on the start-finish straight.
Hamilton, who wants to see out the title which will draw him level with Juan Manuel Fangio with a victory, is in striking range of the Red Bulls but, crucially, ahead of his sole rival.
“I am really happy with it,” Hamilton said after his Mercedes team had been well off the pace in practice on Friday.
“We had a difficult day yesterday and today was a big improvement. Being behind the Red Bulls is not a bad thing.”
The 800-yard dash to the opening bend is the longest on the calendar and last year Vettel collided with Hamilton at the third bend.
“We saw what happened last year with the red car behind, so I don’t know what will happen at the start tomorrow,” he added.
“It depends how we get away, but I am going to be fighting to gain a position. I am wary of the Red Bulls ahead.”
Ricciardo, who edged out Verstappen by just 0.026 seconds, was ecstatic with the result.
“I knew it was in there somewhere,” he said moments after roaring over the radio in delight.
“I knew putting the lap together would be crucial as always, and Max showed the pace was in the car all weekend.”
Verstappen was rather less excited.
“The whole qualifying was c**p,” the deflated Dutchman said. “We had the same problems from practice yesterday.
“We tried to make the best of it and I thought it was going to be enough for pole with the problems we had.”
Valtteri Bottas was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Fernando Alonso had been eliminated from Q1 at the previous three races, but the soon-to-be-departing double world champion provided some respite for McLaren by qualifying 12th. “Good job,” the Spaniard was told.
His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, also leaving at the end of the year to be replaced by British teenager Lando Norris, finished 17th.
Home favourite Sergio Perez, whose laps through the unique stadium section were greeted with rockstar-like cheers, could manage only 13th, two places off Esteban Ocon in the sister Force India.
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has cemented his place among the world’s highest-earning sportsmen after signing a new £40million-per-year deal with Mercedes.
Hamilton placed 10th on Forbes’ most recent sporting rich list in June 2017, where he was the top-ranked racing driver and trailed only golfer Rory McIlroy among home nations competitors.
Here, we look at how the new deal could affect Hamilton’s financial outlook.
The ‘big five’
Forbes pegged Hamilton’s earnings from his sport at 38million US dollars, or £29.5m, for the 12 months to last June.
That may feature performance-related bonuses for his 11 grand prix wins, six further podium finishes and second place in the 2016 drivers’ championship but either way, the new £40m wage would have moved him ahead of McIlroy and pushed the ‘big five’ on the Forbes list.
Footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant and tennis great Roger Federer have been comfortably clear in the rich list for the last two years, with Durant’s 60.6m US dollars (£47m) representing 2017’s barrier for entry to the exclusive club.
Hamilton’s earnings from endorsements were estimated at another 8m dollars (£6.2m), meaning any significant performance bonuses would lift him ahead of Durant.
Federer (64m dollars, £49.7m) could also be in his sights, though the Swiss should see his numbers rise this year after winning Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Hamilton would have needed around £16m in bonus payments to challenge Messi for third place.
Britain and Ireland
McIlroy is set to drop back somewhat – the year covered by Forbes includes his 10m US dollar FedEx Cup win – and little has changed for Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale, who was joint 24th in the 2017 list on 34m dollars (£26.4m).
The man alongside Bale could be the one to challenge Hamilton. Conor McGregor was already upwardly mobile and has estimated he made around 100m dollars from his boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather in August last year – enough to threaten the very top of Forbes’ list, especially as the face of EA Sports’ UFC games to boot.
Combat sports appear to be where the money is – boxer Anthony Joshua cracked last year’s top 100 after earning a reported £15m from his world title win over Wladimir Klitschko, and has since defended his belts against Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin.