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Formula One Betting: Champion Lewis is already favourite for the 2018 title.

Smile of a champion - Lewis Hamilton reflects on his fourth world drivers' title
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Lewis Hamilton confirmed his place among the all-time greats of British sport as he collected his fourth world title. Ralph Ellis pays tribute and says there is more to come.

"He’s already the favourite to win the 2018 Drivers Championship even before we have half a clue as to who will have the best car. That’s because whatever Mercedes give him, he’ll wring the best from it."

It was the moment in Mexico when Lewis Hamilton went past Fernando Alonso which showed why he's a four-time world champion.

Sat in tenth place, he must have known through his radio that Sebastian Vettel was no further forward than fourth and so anywhere was good enough for him to regain his title.

He'd already tried once to manoeuvre his Mercedes through a tight gap past the McLaren in front of him, and been squeezed out as his old rival refused to give him any ground.

With a couple of laps left, Hamilton could quite easily have sat there and followed in. Tenth would have been the new first, just the same as ninth. Why risk crashing for just one place? The champagne would have flowed just the same.

But that is not his way, and it never has been. Another set of corners came into view, another opportunity to get right on Alonso's tail, another chance to wiggle through the smallest of gaps and then keep his position through the next couple of turns.

And so that's what he did. Because that's what he does. Hamilton is and always has been, first and foremost, a guy who loves racing and risks. That was in his DNA when his dad first bought him a radio-controlled car and he tried to drive it as fast as it would go round their Stevenage flat.

It's been in his DNA ever since. He's already the favourite to win the 2018 Drivers Championship even before we have half a clue as to who will have the best car. That's because whatever Mercedes give him, he'll wring the best from it.

By this time next year he could easily have matched the great Juan Manuel Fangio's five world titles, and at the age of 32 it's still not impossible for him to chase the legendary Michael Schumacher's record of seven.

Hamilton, if he wants to, could go on racing until he is 40 or beyond - and you sense he will want to because when all the showbiz stuff is set aside, racing is what he lives for.

Back when he moved to Mercedes, cutting off his ties to the McLaren team which had nurtured him from schooldays, he was accused of chasing the money. I wrote at the time that he must have believed he was moving to a better car, and that has been proved absolutely right.

Of course, like all top sportsmen, the millions have flowed into his bank account. But he remains a man who counts his fortune in trophies and Grand Prix victories rather than in cash.

I still think he's value to back at [8.4] to win this year's Sports Personality of the Year prize. Motor sport fans always get together to join the voting, and I'm not sure where a sluggish, laboured win over journeyman stand-in Carlos Takam leaves hot favourite Anthony Joshua.

Before then Hamilton has the chance to add a couple more victories to his career list of 62 Grand Prix triumphs, starting in Brazil in two weeks time.

He could, of course, drive both of them as a lap of honour and let team mate Valtteri Bottas have a few moments of glory. But then this is Hamilton, the ultimate competitor, the ultimate winner, as he proved by finishing ninth in Mexico last night.

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