The moment Brendon Hartley's brilliant start to Mexican GP goes up in smoke as F1 car catches on fire mid-race

Kiwi Formula 1 driver Brendon Hartley has had his strong start to the Mexico Grand Prix taken away from him after his car caught fire midway through this morning's race.

Hartley qualified for the race in 13th but took to the starting grid in 17th due to penalties his team received for his engine.

But despite the pre-race setback, Hartley surged up the leaderboard to sit 11th going into the 32nd lap - then disaster struck.

"I'm losing a lot of power," Hartley told his pit crew.

"Stop the car Brendon. Stop the car in a safe place," they replied.

Hartley's car was already showing signs of smoke as he moved it to the side of the track.

The car began showing flames as he exited the cockpit before a roadside marshal stepped in with an extinguisher to put out the fire.

British racer Lewis Hamilton earned his fourth F1 Championship title in the race after finishing in 9th place.

Mark Webber spoke to 1 NEWS in Austin and talked up Hartley's credentials. Source: 1 NEWS

The Palmerston North native finished 13 at the US Grand Prix in Austin this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

There are still two races left in the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS