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


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As it happened: Brendon Hartley forced out as car goes up in smoke, Lewis Hamilton wins fourth F1 title

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of the Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix live from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

10:20am

Lewis Hamilton won his fourth career Formula One season championship on Sunday with a ninth-place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix in a race won by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Hamilton had to overcome first-lap chaos when his Mercedes was bumped by title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari. Hamilton got a tire puncture and Vettel had wing damage. Both had to stop immediately for repairs.

That left them in a furious bid to catch up as Verstappen sped away to victory. Vettel finished fourth but had to win or finish second to push the title chase to the last two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton's championship makes him the most decorated British driver in F1 history, passing Sir Jackie Stewart. He is one of only five drivers in F1 history with four or more.

Hamilton held his helmet in his hands as he crossed the finish line, then took a lap around the track while waving the British Union Jack.

Vettel didn't make any of it easy, in more ways than one.

A wild start saw Verstappen bump the Ferrari while fighting through the first turn at the end of the track's long straight. Verstappen got the edge and got out when Hamilton made a move to get past Vettel, who drifted left. The Ferrari's left front wing clipped Hamilton's right rear tire, damaging both cars and forcing their drivers to pit for repairs.

As Verstappen pulled away, a seething Hamilton asked his team over the radio if Vettel made contact "on purpose."

"Not sure, Lewis," the team replied. Race stewards determined no investigation was necessary.

Both drivers made a mad scramble to get back toward the front, weaving through the traffic that bottles up a short track at the Autodromo Hermanas Rodriguez, and Hamilton was struggling to make up any ground. On lap 23, he was so slow that he was shown a blue flag, the order to let a faster car — Verstappen — go past him.

Vettel was on a furious pace to push the championship to the next race. He never got close. Late in the race, he asked his team if he could get second but when told how far behind he was, Vettel replied, "Oh mama mia, that's too much."

The finish allowed Hamilton to celebrate championships in four cities, with Mexica City joining Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 2008, Abu Dhabi in 2014 and Austin, Texas, in 2015. 

9:40am

Race over! Hamilton wins his fourth title as Vettel settles for 4th place. The title makes him the most successful British driver in history, moving ahead of Jackie Stewart on three. A tough break for Hartley after a brilliant start and Verstappen takes the race after leading from the first lap.

LAP: 71/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

9:35am

WHAT A BATTLE! Hamilton and Alonso duel for four corners but Hamilton gets in front! He's moved to that all-important 9th place which all but secures him the title. Vettel is stuck in 4th over 17 seconds behind Raikkonen still.

LAP: 67/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

9:23am

Now the race gets interesting. Vettel has gotten up to 4th behind teammate Raikkonen so he will likely get a free pass IF he can catch up to him. Between Vettel and Raikkonen is 23 seconds at the moment. Meanwhile, Hamilton has moved to 10th and is hunting down Alonso. A reminder that if Hamilton finishes 9th, Vettel HAS to win in order to have a chance to win this year's F1 Championship.

LAP: 61/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

9:12am

Vettel performs another perfect move to pass Perez and he's in 6th. Hamilton moves up to 12th. Just under 20 laps to go now.

LAP: 52/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

9:01am

Vettel is continuing his surge up the board as he moves to 7th but Hamilton is creeping up! He's now 13th. If Hamilton reaches 9th, Vettel will have to win the race to keep the championship alive. But with Hamilton's teammate Bottas sitting in second, just getting into the top 2 is going to be a mission in itself.

LAP: 44/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

8:51am

So with a safety car out due to Hartley's problems, everyone takes a pit stop to reset the cars. Just over halfway in the race and Hamilton is starting to find his groove as he moves to 15th. Vettel is still powering up the leaderboard but is still only in 8th.

LAP: 36/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

8:46am

HARTLEY IS OUT! His car is smoking and he's pulled off to the side! He was 11th at the time. They believe it's a radiator problem but with the amount of mechanical issues the car has had this weekend, who knows.

LAP: 32/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: OUT

8:38am

Hulkenberg becomes the latest to exit the race as Vettel gets past Hartley easily. He's surged to 10th now and is already chasing Alonso. Hartley is still in 12th due to Hulkenberg's withdrawal.

LAP: 28/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: 12th

8:27am

Vettel is driving like a man posessed! He's surged up the back end of the race and is now sitting directly behind Hartley! Hamilton still stuck in 19th. He's told his crew it's "difficult" to get past other drivers at the moment.

LAP: 18/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: 12th

8:12am

Things have settled down about now after that crazy start and Hartley has already moved up five spots! Ricciardo has had to retire from the race after he was caught up in the opening lap chaos as well. That will ruin his place in the Driver's Championship - he was fourth entering today. Vettel is up to 16 after pitting. Hamilton still at the back in 19th.

LAP: 9/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: 12th

8:03am

Lights out and away we go! IT'S CHAOS! There's collisions on the first corner and Hamilton has a tyre puncture! Vettel has damaged his front guards so he hits the pits also! Verstappen comes out in front amid all the carnage. What a start!

LAP: 1/71
Leader: Max Verstappen
Hartley: 16th

8:00am

Formation lap now. Lots of zig-zagging as the drivers try to heat up the tires - it's 23 degrees today so not the warmest conditions.

7:55am

Just five minutes to go! The cars are getting on the grid and drivers are getting in their seats. Changes to the starting grid due to engine penalties will see Hartley start from 17 instead of his qualified 13th spot.

7:40am

Brendon Hartley is starting in 13th today after a pretty impressive qualifying effort. However he did admit after yesterday's session he was a bit frustrated about the placing as he felt he could've done more had his car not broken down.

7:30am

We're 30 minutes away from the green light. Rather overcast day as Hamilton looks for his fourth title. The cars are on the track.

Pre-Race

Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley will start 13th on the grid in today's Mexican Grand Prix, in just his second Formula 1 race.

The 27-year-old Toro Rosso driver was consistent in both the final practice session and qualifying this morning.

He clocked 1min 18.602sec for the 11th-fastest time of the third practice session, and was fractionally slower in the first phase of qualifying with 1:18.683.

However, he stopped on track during the second phase with engine problems and faces a potential grid penalty.

Hartley finished 13th at the US Grand Prix on debut last week, becoming the first Kiwi to compete at that level for 33 years.

He has been allocated a seat for the remainder of the season by Toro Rosso, with races to follow in Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi.

In Mexico, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel seized his 50th pole position in topping qualifying with a 1:16.488 lap.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull was second quickest on 1:16.524, while Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) will start third on the grid after clocking 1:16.934 in the third phase of qualifying.

Hamilton needs to finish fifth today to secure a fourth world title. 

Starting Grid 

1 Sebastian Vettel (GER)
2 Max Verstappen (NED)
3 Lewis Hamilton (GBR)
4 Valtteri Bottas (FIN)
5 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN)
6 Esteban Ocon (FRA)
7 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS)
8 Nico Hulkenberg (GER)
9 Carlos Sainz (SPA)
10 Sergio Perez (MEX)
11 Felipe Massa (BRA)
12 Lance Stroll (CAN)
13 Brendon Hartley (NZL)
14 Fernando Alonso (SPA)
15 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL)
16 Marcus Ericsson (SWE)
17 Pascal Wehrlein (GER)
18 Kevin Magnussen (DEN)
19 Romain Grosjean (FRA)

20 Pierre Gasly (FRA)


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Video: 'He's a tenacious little bugger' - former F1 Aussie driver praises Kiwi star Brendon Hartley

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


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