After a wet race at Sao Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Massa took what can only be described as a commanding victory at his home track. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand, walked away with the title of world champion 2008.
The Brazilian Grand Prix hosted the most dramatic climax to a season in the history of Formula One, with Lewis Hamilton losing and regaining his title hopes in the space of two laps. He drove a calm race taking little risks, and he gained the ultimate prize.
Lewis Hamilton, 23, went into the Brazilian Grand Prix needing only fifth place to win the championship, and qualifying fourth on the grid, with his team mate Heikki Kovalainen right behind in fifth to protect him from Fernando Alonso in sixth, was a more than satisfactory start to his weekend.
What he really hoped for now was a boring race where he would stay in fourth with his team mate behind to back him up in fifth, until the rain began to fall a few minutes before the beginning of the race. This delayed the start of the race and allowed the teams to equip their drivers with intermediates, except Robert Kubica who decided against this. He soon regretted it when he darted into the pits after the formation lap to change his tyres.
As the race got under way, the top five stayed in position, with Massa getting off the line with ease to slip away from Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton looked like he had slipped down a position, but Kovalainen was with him on the outside of turn one, and nursed his team mate through, and then shutting the door on Vettel.
Down the back straight however, Kovalainen lost two positions to Vettel and Alonso, but it can be said that Kovalainen had done his job for Hamilton, as he was sitting in a very cautious fourth place.
From then on it was a case of survival for Lewis Hamilton, and things only got worst for him when he came into the pits a few laps later to change his tyres to dries. This demoted him to seventh, with Trulli and Fisichella, who made an early gamble on the dry tyres, in front of him.
A couple of laps later, Hamilton was able to pass Trulli, and a further six laps he was able to pass Fisichella and put himself back into a title winning position.
For the most part of the race, Hamilton was able to keep his car there, when all of a sudden Robert Kubica passed him to unlap himself, therefore allowing Vettel to get pass and steal fifth, placing Hamilton outside of championship contention, with only three laps to go.
The last lap was upon Hamilton quickly, and Felipe Massa had crossed the line to win the Grand Prix before Hamilton was even half way round the track. The championship had slipped from him, until Timo Glock had lost 18 seconds on the last lap, allowing Hamilton to take back fifth place in the penultimate corner.
100,000 Brazilian fans dream of Massa winning the championship were dashed as Hamilton crossed the line to win his first title, and become the youngest driver ever to win one.
This race did not just give birth to a new champion, but also to a renewed Lewis Hamilton, who proved that he can drive under pressure, and deliver the goods when they are needed.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was also a race with another story however. It did not just give rise to a new world champion, but bid farewell to a great driver with a distinguished career in the sport—David Coulthard.
Although his last race only lasted one corner, it can be said that he was truly one of the greats, a modern day Sir Sterling Moss, a champion who will never be.
So the 2008 Formula One season has drawn to a close, and a new champion has been crowned. As a personal tribute, I would like to say well done to Lewis Hamilton, you thoroughly deserve the title.
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