Hamilton: Five key races in F1 world champion's 2019 title success

Lewis Hamilton has been crowned Formula One world champion for a sixth time after getting the points he required to seal glory with a second-place finish at the United States Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver has won five of the last six drivers' championships, adding to his first success with McLaren back in 2008.

He now stands just one title away from the legendary Michael Schumacher, who won the last of his seven world titles four years before Hamilton's maiden championship win.

Hamilton's title-winning season has been one of the more comfortable of his career.

He fought off an early challenge from team-mate Valtteri Bottas and built up a lead too great for any of his other rivals to claw back, despite the improvement shown by Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen later in the year.

Here, we look at five key races in the Briton's successful 2019 campaign.

Bahrain: Hamilton pounces as engine woe costs Leclerc

Mercedes had dominated the first race of the season, but Ferrari looked poised to bounce back emphatically in Bahrain at the next meeting only to endure a nightmare finish.

Leclerc had qualified on pole, dropped down to third in a poor start but fought back to control the race and was leading Hamilton by eight seconds with three laps to go.

But Leclerc was cruelly denied a first career win by an engine issue that led to him being passed by eventual winner Hamilton and team-mate Bottas, with a late safety car the only reason he was able to limp home in third, while Vettel had earlier spun from second spot.

It was part of a series of technical issues, driver errors, strategy mishaps and strokes of bad luck that plagued Ferrari early in the season and meant they did not win a race until the 13th grand prix of the year.

Hamilton said: "That was extremely unfortunate for Charles, he drove such a great race.

"I had to go and see him. I'm sure it was a devastating result for him because he'd done the job to win. We were lucky. He's got lots more wins coming in the future."

Monaco: Holding off Verstappen to honour Lauda with victory

At the previous meeting in Spain, Hamilton had overtaken pole-sitter Bottas and won to halt his team-mate's early season momentum and claim the championship lead.

He then followed that up with a famous triumph around the streets of Monaco.

In a race where Mercedes' non-executive chairman and three-time world champion Niki Lauda was honoured after his death, Hamilton made the perfect tribute by winning from pole position.

Hamilton's magnificent battle with a charging Verstappen - where he held on to win despite driving for 66 laps on medium tyres that were supposed to last 50 - thrilled F1® fans and was much needed after a dour start to the season.

"That was definitely the hardest race I've had," said Hamilton, whose title hopes got a further boost when Leclerc retired from the race.

"I really was fighting with the spirit of Niki - he's been such an influence in our team and I know he will be looking down and taking his hat off."

Canada: Vettel controversy extends Hamilton lead

Hamilton's seventh win in Canada included one of the most controversial F1® moments in recent memory and led to a failed Ferrari appeal.

The 34-year-old crossed the line in second place behind Vettel, but was handed the win because of a five-second time penalty issued to the Ferrari driver.

Vettel was furious after the race in Montreal and moved the number one marker from the car of Hamilton – who was booed on the podium – to the front of his own in parc ferme, having accused stewards of "stealing" the victory on team radio.

He had led the race from pole but was being pursued by Hamilton with 22 laps left. He then went wide at turn three and re-joined the track from the grass to block his rival and hold the position in a way that stewards deemed to be unsafe.

Hamilton said: "Naturally that's absolutely not the way I wanted to win. When you come back on the track you are not meant to come back straight on the racing line. You're meant to re-join safely. I forced the error and he went wide - we nearly collided."

The win was his third in a row and was followed by a fourth in France at the next meeting. 

Mercedes won all eight of the opening races of the season, Hamilton claiming six of those to lead Bottas by 36 points and Vettel by 76.

Britain: Home victory provides major blow to Bottas

Despite Hamilton winning four straight races prior to Verstappen's victory in Austria, the lead over Bottas was only 31 points going into his home grand prix at Silverstone.

Hamilton earned a difficult victory – a record sixth win in Great Britain – after duelling with his team-mate throughout the race weekend, moving the title race decisively in his favour.

The championship leader lost out to Bottas in qualifying and came out second best in a battle for the lead over the first few laps.

But staying out longer when the Finn pitted in a different race strategy already looked like it was going to work in Hamilton's favour before a timely safety car made absolutely certain he could pit and hold onto the lead.

"It's so hard to win this grand prix," said Hamilton, who added an exclamation point to his victory by taking the fastest lap with hard tyres that were 32 laps old. 

"When you achieve something like that and you see all those British flags, I thought, 'Someone give me a flag' because one day I'll look back and have that picture of me in the car with that flag and I'll always be able to smile until my dying day."

Following this win, Hamilton pushed on and extended his lead to 65 by the time the F1® calendar had reached Monza.

Russia: Safety car luck ends Ferrari's winning streak

While Mercedes had dominated the first half of the season, their rivals fought back emphatically after the mid-season break.

Ferrari claimed three consecutive victories in Belgium, Italy and – most surprisingly – in Singapore, a track that was not supposed to be well suited to the Scuderia.

They were poised to continue that dominant run after Leclerc claimed pole position in Russia, where Mercedes had won every grand prix held since the race's return in 2014.

Despite bickering between Leclerc and team-mate Vettel over who should lead the race after Ferrari deployed team orders at the start, they still appeared to be in control of the race.

But everything changed when Vettel had to retire on lap 26 after his pit stop due to an engine issue. He was told to stop immediately, resulting in a virtual safety car that meant Hamilton - who led on track having not yet stopped - could box and still retain the lead.

Suddenly Mercedes were in control and Leclerc, the lone Ferrari left, ended up third after being unable to pass a resolute Bottas in the closing stages. 

"Ferrari are still quite dominant at the moment so it's taken quite a special job from us to come out ahead of them," said Hamilton, who ended the race 73 points clear of Bottas and 107 ahead of Leclerc.

With that win, any hopes of a dramatic late championship swing were at an end.

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