Newly-crowned five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton believes “special moments” ultimately proved pivotal in overcoming Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in the 2018 title race.

A fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix was enough for Hamilton to equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s tally of five championships and became just the third driver in F1 history to claim five or more world titles.

Ferrari appeared to boast the superior package for much of the season but a series of missed opportunities and high-profile errors from Vettel enabled Hamilton to surge to a fifth crown as the Briton went on to record six wins in the last nine races.

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“Through the year there were a lot of testing times for us,” Hamilton said.

“Even on weekends where we didn’t have the package and we were on the back foot, we’d come away with wins even though we weren’t the quickest.

“It took some special laps, it took some special moments in the car and I honestly could just re-live those moments all the time. Some of those experiences I had in the car were really magical.”

Hamilton said the “flawless” work of his Mercedes team was key to helping him produce the level of performances he has been able to maintain throughout the campaign.

“I truly believed that we could win this championship but it has been the toughest battle that we’ve had collectively as a team,” Hamilton explained.

“I feel like I can drive anything and I feel I can take the car to places that nobody else can. But to do that, you have to get the car in the right place and so that means ultimately you’ve got to work with the team, to help unleash what’s great within them so that you can unleash the greatness in yourself.

“I think we had some strong races last year but I really wanted to, personally wanted to see how I could raise the bar, because each year you have to expect your opponents are going to do the same.

“Ferrari really picked up the pace this year and ultimately I think most of the time we’ve been trailing them slightly,” he added.

“Even if it’s only by a tenth or two, and do I’ve had to try and bring something extra, to dig so deep to another level, so that I could pull those performances out where we weren’t quickest but we won the race.

“I’m very proud of how I’ve delivered – but I’m really, really proud of how everyone around me has also raised their bar, raised their game. That’s been key.”

Hamilton, who revealed his grandfather died just days before his latest title triumph, also praised Vettel for the fight he put up this year and tipped the German to continue to go “from strength to strength” heading into 2019.

“It’s been a hard year. He’s fought so well this year and I know he drove fantastically well here and I know he’s going to go from strength to strength,” he said.

“So I I’ve got to stay on my toes and make sure I keep trying to come back with a good blow in the future.”

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