2008 F1 Drivers Title: Wheel to Wheel or Wide Open

Rob CockerillCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2008

Will the 2008 Formula One Drivers World Championship really be won over the course of the next few races, or is it more likely that the contest will count down to a crescendo in buzzing Brazil once more?

Lewis Hamilton’s scintillating surge to victory at Hockenheim followed a master class in wet weather driving at Silverstone to clinch back-to-back wins and secure a four-point drivers championship lead.

At the same time, Felipe Massa has stumbled with sheer indifference and Kimi Raikkonen hasn’t come to grips with circuit set-ups in Britain and Germany. Both have seen their title challenges falter as a result, while Hamilton attracted the plaudits, stole a march in the championship, and struck a psychological hammer blow to his rivals.

Do the effects of the past few weeks signal a turning tide in this year’s championship crusade, or can we expect a repeat performance of the thrilling 2007 championship battle?

President of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) and 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill believes the tables have turned and the momentum is now firmly with Hamilton. According to BBC Sport, Hill has seen enough to suggest that the young Brit will triumph in the three-way battle and perhaps before the season finale on November 2 at Interlagos.

“I think he psychologically demolished the opposition at Silverstone. He is on a roll now as you could see from his performance in Germany. It may be finished before the season is over,” Hill is quoted as having told the BBC.

Now I’m a Brit, and more than that I’m an Englishman, and quite proud of it. There’s nothing I’d love more than to see Hamilton wrap it up with races to spare. There’s nothing I’d love more than to see our last British World Champion proved right. But I just can’t see it, not this year and not next.

Perhaps McLaren and Hamilton can extend their winning run to five races as they would surely be favoured in Hungary this weekend, in Valencia for the European GP, and at legendary Spa for the Belgian GP. Victory isn’t certain, however, and there’s already been enough twists and turns to suggest that the season won’t fade into a one-horse race.

Ferrari, Massa, and Raikkonen will almost certainly have something to say about that as well. Too many errant decisions appear to have been made by the Italian Stallion’s management at crucial moments in races, but that won’t last.

Is it implausible to think that Ferrari will be favoured at home in Italy, at the inaugural Singapore night race, in Japan, China, and the season-close in Brazil? Probably not.

Nor would it be foolish to expect the super cool Finn to spring a few surprises in the meantime.

Massa, I fear, carries too much inconsistency and Heiki Kovalainen appears too far adrift in the championship to enter the race. Similarly, after what had seemed a storming start to the season by the brimming BMW’s, the challenge seems to have evaporated slightly in recent races.

Whether it’s a two-horse tie for the title or a wide-open battle to the last, let’s look forward to a rollercoaster race to the 2008 season’s end in Sao Paulo later this year—without the debacle of warring teammates and an over-inflated spying row. Game on!