Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested Lewis Hamilton’s fifth world championship was his “hardest won” after fending off Sebastian Vettel for the second year running.

Hamilton sealed the drivers’ title in Mexico with a fourth-placed finish, the Briton’s fourth crown in the last five seasons with Mercedes.

The achievement saw him draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio in the all-time list, resisting the challenge from Vettel all season, who is comprehending a second defeat to Hamilton after also missing out in 2017.

Brawn was one of the people credited with persuading Hamilton to join Mercedes in 2013, and praised the 33-year-old for achieving his deserved success.

“It’s hard to know how to congratulate Lewis for his fifth world title,” Brawn said in his post-race column.

“It puts him level with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and that’s simply incredible.

“It’s also hard to find a sportsman in any other field who has achieved so much in so short a space of time.

“This is Lewis’ 12th season in Formula 1 and he’s won the title in almost half of them, which is truly amazing.

“It’s always hard to draw comparisons, but this was maybe the hardest won of all his titles.”

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Hamilton now sits two off seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s record of F1 championships and Brawn, who worked with Schumacher in his title-winning period at Benetton and Ferrari, believes the two draw comparison in a particular trait.

“This year Mercedes faced stern opposition, again from a Ferrari car that was usually more competitive, as indeed was the case in Mexico,” Brawn added.

“To take the title with two races remaining is even more impressive, with Lewis supported by an equally brilliant team.

“If I had to choose one characteristic that makes Lewis special, it’s his ability to win so many races in which he wasn’t the favourite, as we saw several times this year – in Hockenheim, Budapest and Monza to name but a few.

“Of course, he also won those in which he was deemed to be the man most likely to win. It’s a characteristic he shares with the only driver to have won more titles than him – Michael Schumacher.

“Lewis was already part of Formula 1’s history and now he is truly a legend of the sport.”