Magnificent Felipe Massa Wins The Battle But Cautious Lewis Hamilton Won The War

Barney CorkhillSenior Writer INovember 2, 2008

Well, what a finale to the Formula One season!

It was set-up almost perfectly. Lewis Hamilton faced off with Felipe Massa in the final race. All Hamilton had to do was finish fifth or better and he would win the Drivers Championship.

Felipe Massa, however, was racing in his native Brazil, and had recorded a record third consecutive pole position at Interlagos. Could he steal the title from Hamilton's grasp?

One thing was for sure, Hamilton wouldn't give up without a fight. He knows what it feels like to lose the Championship in dramatic last race after his debut season last year turned from a dream into a disaster through a combination of bad luck, inexperience and youthful exuberance.

This year, however, he was that bit more experienced, that bit more determined, and that bit more mature. He, as almost all the drivers have, had his fair share of bad luck, and he also had controversial decision go both for and against him.

No doubt, in his short Formula One career, Lewis Hamilton has been one of the most controversial figures to grace the paddock.

One question that was on everybody's lips, however, was how Hamilton would drive. Would he be his usual, exciting, risk-taking self, and go for winning the Championship in style, at the risk of crashing out or would he learn from the mistakes of last year and drive a cautious race, ensuring he got at least fifth place?

Well, it was the latter, but it very nearly didn't work out for him.

With the race delayed for ten minutes after heavy rainfall, Hamilton soon fell behind, and was out of the required positions, with Massa leading.

He soon clawed his way back and, after a few pit stops from everyone, Hamilton was in the top five towards the latter stages of the race.

Felipe Massa, meanwhile, was doing all he could do. Winning. He knew that if he won, then it was all in the young hands of Lewis Hamilton. With just five or so laps to go, Hamilton was in fourth, and Massa was far out in front.

And then the rain came.

The front few took precautionary pit-stops to change their tyres, just in case of heavy rain. All, that is, except Toyota's Timo Glock, who overtook both Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel while they were in the pits.

Vettel then went on to sensationally overtake Hamilton at the start of the penultimate lap, leaving the Englishman in sixth. Vettel also seemed to be pulling away from Hamilton as did his title ambitions.

It was obvious that Hamilton was not going to catch Vettel. His dreams had been shattered for a second consecutive year. The Ferrari team were celebrating.

The celebrations were quickly subdued, however, after the final two corners, where Timo Glock, who, remember, hadn't changed his tyres, was struggling for grip.

Both Vettel and Hamilton sped past Glock, and up the hill to the finish line.

Hamilton finished fifth, the minimum requirement for winning the title. Massa was devastated as he saw the youngest ever Formula One Driver's Champion crowned, Britain's first champion since Damon Hill over a decade ago.

It was a jaw-dropping finish, probably the most dramatic and exciting I have ever seen, but it was Lewis Hamilton who came out on top.

As one Brit was just embarking on a successful career, another ended in a regretful fashion today as David Coulthard crashed out on the first corner in his farewell race.

Congratulations Lewis Hamilton, you have made history today! Could we be seeing the beginning of the "Hamilton era?" We certainly could be, if he gains the experience and maturity to go with his phenomenal raw driving talent.