Don Kennedy on Formula One
An emotional Lewis Hamilton claimed his seventh driver's title by winning the Turkish GP in treacherous conditions, thus equalling Michael Schumacher's record that has stood since 2005.
English newspapers like The Times and The Daily Mail have hailed Hamilton as Britain's greatest sportsman after the 35-year old's record-equalling feat.
Hamilton started the race with the luxury of knowing that his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas had to out-score him by more than eight points to prevent him taking his sixth title with Mercedes and seventh, but with Bottas having six spins in the race and finishing 14th it was no contest.
Charles Leclerc, who hopes to become a world champion with Ferrari, said after the race in which he finished fourth, that it was "more a matter of when than if" that Hamilton secured the seventh title, but acknowledged he "has done an incredible season."
There will be few who could argue with Leclerc's assessment, especially given Hamilton had to overcome a relatively poor sixth place qualifying spot on a track that with recent re-surfacing, coupled with rain, was as slippery as a skating rink.
Williams' driver George Russell, who crashed on to the way to the grid for the race, described it as like "driving on sheet ice". Both Mercedes drivers had struggled on the wet track in qualifying, which exposed the team's Achille's heel, which is getting heat into cold tyres.
Bottas qualified only ninth and had two spins on the opening lap to effectively ensure Hamilton would be champion again.
But the latter clearly wasn't satisfied about taking the title by racing in midfield, and patiently set about chasing down the race leaders, the Racing Point duo of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez who had started from first and third on the grid.
Also in the mix were the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc.
As Mercedes boss Toto Wolff later commented, Hamilton is still as "hungry as a lion" as evidenced by the relentless and ruthless way he hunted down the leaders after making an early pit stop and then staying out on intermediate tyres despite the threat of rain late in the race, for 44 laps.
He won easily in the end to claim a 10th victory in14 races and his 94th career win, etching his name further into the record books, albeit for now equal with Schumacher on titles won.
As Hamilton crossed the finish line more than half a minute ahead of Perez, with Vettel making the podium for the first time this season, he was emotional in the cockpit, as his race engineer, Peter 'Bono' Bonnington, and Wolff, congratulated him on the team radio.
When he returned to parc ferme, Hamilton gave the sign with his race number of 44 and the words "World champion" on it, a decent shove and then sat motionless in the car that may be the best Formula One car ever constructed.
As he sat there, undoubtedly shedding a tear, first Vettel, and then Perez, came over and broke social distancing rules by shaking his hand.
Climbing on to the car and raising both arms in the air, Hamilton then made a beeline for his team members who he has always graciously acknowledged as being a huge part of his success. He was then interviewed by Sky Sport commentator, Martin Brundle.
"I'm definitely a little bit lost for words," Hamilton told Brundle, but he clearly wasn't.
"Naturally I have to start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys that are here and all the guys back at both our factories and all our partners enabling us and giving us this opportunity."
"I wouldn't be able to do this if I didn't join this team, and the journey we've been on has been monumental. I'm so proud of them."
Hamilton sees himself as a role model for young people and those seeking racial equality, a cause close to his heart.
"I also want to say a big thank you to Team LH for sticking with me for all these years, and to my family. We dreamed of this when I was young, when we were watching the grand prix and this is way, way beyond our dreams."
"I think it's so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and don't listen to anyone who tells you can't achieve something, dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You've got to work for it, you've got to chase it and never give up, never doubt yourself."
Asked about his decision to stay out on the intermediate tyres despite the team wanting him to pit for slick tyres as a precaution, Hamilton was able to call on his past experience in China in 2007, when he slid off into the gravel at the pit lane entry, as a reminder to back himself.
"If I went out on new slicks I wouldn't have made it around," Hamilton suggested.
"You remember I lost the World Championship in the pit lane? I learned my lesson from 2007 that's for sure."
Wolff was full of praise for his driver's efforts, whose victory was in stark contrast to the 14th place finish for Bottas.
"It shows how he's capable of coping with the situation that went against him at the beginning," he said. "He was the only one who kept it on the road, that is the difference today. Yes, look at what has happened today, he was as hungry as a lion."
Like Hamilton, Wolff is out of contract at year-end, and has confirmed that if he stays on, it may not be as team principal.
"I think we are both a factor of each other," Wolff remarked. "There is such a big structure behind me from the team, that if I were to go they would still be winning."
Vettel, who was pleased to be on the podium and finish ahead of his Ferrari teammate Leclerc, believes he could have won the race if he pitted for dry tyres with 20 laps to go, but wasn't trying to take anything away from Hamilton's achievement.
He was asked what he said to Hamilton as the latter sat emotionally in his car at the end of the race.
"Well, I told him its very special for us because we can witness history being made today," Vettel replied.
"I think he is the greatest of our era for sure. I think it's always difficult to compare ... how can you possibly compare Fangio, Stirling Moss to our generation? You can't."
"Maybe we would be useless because we would all be shitting ourselves in those cars. Maybe they would be useless in our cars because they're way too fast. Who knows. But it doesn't matter, I think every era has its driver or drivers and Lewis is certainly the greatest of our era."
Considering Michael Schumacher was Vettel's hero and mentor, that is high praise indeed.
Hamilton wasn't the only driver to stay out on old tyres, as runner-up Perez was on a similar strategy.
"I told my team on the radio, I think one more lap on those tyres, and they would have exploded," he told the press.
"The team did a fantastic job in terms of strategy reading the race. Lewis today was extremely strong, and towards the end we died, but we managed to get a good result."
Will that result help keep the driver now fourth in the championship, in F1 next year, considering he has no drive?
"I think as always you know you have to be delivering weekend after weekend, you are as good as your last race, so it's important to finish on a high. The rest is not in my hands."
Carlos Sainz started 15th after a grid penalty and finished fifth for McLaren, earning 10 points, while his teammate Lando Norris was eighth, with five points, helping negate the 18 points Perez scored for Racing Point, who remain third in the Constructors' title, but only five points ahead of McLaren.
Verstappen was distraught to only finish sixth considering he had dominated practice, but was pipped by Stroll in qualifying and then in the race had at least two spins and ran wide on several occasions.
"It was a very annoying, frustrating race," Verstappen said. "Definitely one to forget. Really, really difficult. Basically, just following, no grip, trying to survive, so definitely not a great day."
As for Hamilton's race, Verstappen had to acknowledge what he achieved.
"It was pretty obvious he was going to win it but it's just incredible. A very strong driver, also of course today, he's now the greatest driver in Formula One in terms of stats anyway, but a great result for the whole team also. They have been so dominant and definitely deserved it."
The age and experience of the drivers on the podium won't have escaped the notice of 23-year old Verstappen either.
Hamilton is 35 with 264 race starts, Vettel 33 with 254 starts and Perez 30, with 188 starts.
Maturity and experience will often triumph over youth and exuberance, and the way Hamilton took his seventh title is a frightening reminder to the pretenders to his crown, that he will not be relinquishing it anytime soon.