Lewis Hamilton - 2018 the best year of my career

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Hamilton joins Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio in an elite club of drivers to have five world championships or more - but he had to work hard for it to finally get over the line.

That will be fine for Hamilton: even if he fails to finish the race, as long as a Red Bull takes the chequered flag, the championship is still his.

But that consistency is just one of the reasons why Hamilton clinched his fifth win - fourth in five years - with two races to spare.

And he came home in fourth to ensure he can not be caught by Sebastian Vettel at the top of the World Drivers' Championship standings.

It is a very unusual feeling right now.

"It's definitely been my best year, I feel".

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It was their first lockout since the United States Grand Prix in 2013 and on a day that record-breaking speed gave them the initiative for a race won by Verstappen a year ago. "It is a great moment".

He was also the victor of this race when Hamilton clinched his fourth world title in 2017.

It was Ricciardo first pole position outside Monaco and Red Bull Racing's first front-row lockout since the 2013 United States Grand Prix nearly five years ago.

Verstappen controlled the race after taking the lead from the start, with Hamilton slotting into second.

Hamilton slotted in behind the Dutchman, with pole-sitter Ricciardo dropping to third. But his chance for a win was too far off, Max just too far up the road.

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.

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Pierre Gasly chose not to complete representative running in Q2 with his incoming engine penalties meaning that he will start tomorrow's race from the back. It would become a theme of the race.

"The start was the key", he said after the finish.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth fastest, with Mercedes replacing his car's engine between final practice and qualifying, and ahead of fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen in sixth place for Ferrari.

On lap 17, Hamilton was fixed on Raikkonen's gearbox, with the Finn struggling on worn tyres.

Hamilton has totally dominated the latter part of the season, winning six of the last nine races, while Vettel has struggled for consistency with a series of small mistakes compromising his challenge.

"It was not a very clean flying lap", Vettel summarised. On lap 39, he whizzed past his rival for second.

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