Lewis Hamilton will celebrate winning the world championship with his dogs in Los Angeles, the triumphant Briton revealed on Sunday night.
Hamilton made hard work of the fifth title that draws him level with Juan Manuel Fangio, and just two short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, after a nervous Mexican Grand Prix.
The Mercedes star, 33, started well but he was passed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and then ran off the road while battling for position with the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
The Englishman performed a series of celebratory doughnuts in his Mercedes for the 40,000-strong crowd in the former baseball stadium section of this unique Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez venue, before standing on top of the car to salute them.
Vettel, who finished second behind winner Max Verstappen, then sportingly broke away from his post-race television interview to embrace Hamilton.
“Right now, it just doesn’t feel real,” Hamilton said. “I feel like I am going to wake up in a matter of moments.”
Asked how he intended to celebrate his triumph, Hamilton replied: “It is going to sound really boring, but I just feel content and really happy, so I am looking forward to going to sleep.
“Tonight, I will leave this beautiful country, and I am looking forward to seeing my dogs, Roscoe and Coco, who live in LA. The unconditional love of a pet is something quite special.
“I have a lot of friends around me, so I am sure we will come together and embrace this moment.”
Hamilton’s victory parade will now begin in Brazil, a week on Sunday.
While the race here may not have gone to script for Hamilton, Vettel has been unable to live with his rival during the second half of a spellbinding campaign by the Mercedes man.
Vettel delivered his best drive since the summer break on Sunday, but it was a case of too little, too late for the German, whose championship challenge has been defined by a series of mistakes.
“Lewis drove superbly all year, and he was the better one of us two,” said Vettel, who visited the Mercedes’ nerve centre in the paddock to congratulate the team following Hamilton’s triumph.
“Number five is something incredible so I told him to enjoy it, and keep pushing as I need him to be at his best for us to keep fighting again next year.
“It is a horrible moment for me. Three times in my life I have had that disappointment when you realise you can’t win the championship anymore and they are not happy days.
“We reflect on not one moment, but the whole of the year. We had our chances, but in the end we were not good enough.”