Lewis Hamilton described a surreal feeling after winning the Formula One drivers' championship for the fourth time despite finishing ninth in the Mexico Grand Prix.

Hamilton and Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel clashed during the opening lap, with the German driver - who had started on pole - emerging in a better position than the table leader.

But Vettel could not claw his way back to take the victory he required to keep his fight alive as Hamilton cruised to the title, making him the outright most successful British driver of all time.

"Wow," Hamilton said as he celebrated with his crew. "I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who came out to support us. I hope we gave them a good race today. Mexican fans are the best around the world.

"I gave everything I could. I had a good start. I don't know what happened at turn three - I gave plenty of room - but I tried really hard to come back.

"I just want to say a big thank you to my family, to the team, I'm so proud to be part of it.

"It doesn't feel real. It's not the kind of race I want - being 40 seconds behind or something - but I never gave up and kept going right until the end."