Lewis Hamilton Secures Championship in Final Corner Bid: Full Report

Adam PooleAnalyst INovember 2, 2008

Lewis Hamilton has today become the youngest ever World Drivers Champion in a nail-biting final corner pass.  Massa had all but won the championship when Hamilton caught and passed a struggling Timo Glock in the final corner of the Brazilian Grand-Prix.

At 23 years, 10 months and 26 days old, Lewis Hamilton has become the youngest ever champion in an emotion-filled final race of the 2008 season.

It looked as though all hopes were lost with just three laps remaining as Sebastian Vettel caught and passed Lewis Hamilton to take fifth place, the lowest that Hamilton could finish in to win the title.

However, with a wet finish to the race and Timo Glock the only one of the front runners to stay on "Dry" Bridgestones, Hamilton managed to catch and pass Glock in the final turn of Interlagos and secure his championship spot—one that comes in his second year of Formula One racing.

Please join me now as I attempt to break down the race...

The initial start time of the Grand-Prix was delayed by 10 minutes as it started to pour with rain in Sao Paulo, last minute changes to tyres as all teams deciding on the Intermediate rubber for the start.

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The race is go, go, go but into turn one retiring driver, David Coulthard was spun by Rosberg and he took Piquet off the track with him as the pair hit the pit wall, as a result the safety car is deployed, sadly, David Coulthard's 15 year career is over in a cloud of spray.

Lap five and the safety car pulls into the pits and we are once again racing in Brazil, a heated tussle between Kovalainen and Alonso sees the Finn pass the Spaniard, but the Renault driver retakes the place after forcing Heikki wide into turn three.

As we head into lap eight of the 71 lap race, Massa leads from Trulli, Raikkonen is third but is catching the front two.  We see Nico Rosberg pit on this lap, he opts for the harder dry tyres with a slight wing adjustment, the rain stopped only three laps ago, good move or bad move?

Lap nine see's a flurry of pits in the forms of Bourdais, Glock, Sutil, and Nakajima all of these drivers opting to take the dry rubber, and as lap nine comes to a close the top five runner are yet to change their tires and are still running on intermediate wet Bridgestones.

It's another two laps before we see race leader, Felipe Massa, go through the pit lane speed limiter followed by Kovalainen and Nick Heidfeld, all of these change to the dry tires and take on around twenty laps of fuel.  Hamilton takes a short 7.5s stop and gets some hard dry rubber.

Lap thirteen and Hamilton manages to pass Trulli in a superb move into turn one, Trulli almost loses his car into the pit wall and as a result, Bourdais and team mate, Timo Glock manage to pass him aswell.

Sebastian Vettel heads into lap 16 less than a second behind race leader, Felipe Massa, he isn't giving the Ferrari any room for error and as we hit turn one on lap eighteen Hamilton manages to edge just one place closer to Massa as he passes Fisichella and takes fourth position with Massa leading, Vettel second, and Raikkonen around six seconds ahead.

A tussle between Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Bourdais into turn one leaves the Frenchman off the track, Trulli just didn't leave him anywhere to go—to be honest, one that the stewards should be looking into.

Vettel is on fire and takes Massa's lead down to just 0.6s as we head into lap 22 and Glock is closing on Hamilton, who seems to be struggling with pace, or is he just fueled heavy?

After an impressive start from Kovalainen, with the lengthy pit after a right-rear tire didn't want to come off, we see him take P9 from Heidfeld—nowhere near good enough for McLaren to challenge Ferrari for the constructors title.

As we head into lap 28, Kovalainen takes eighth place from Trulli and coming down the start/finish straight the McLaren is clearly quicker than the Force India car and he darts past Fisichella to take seventh.

An unexpected early stop from Sebastian Vettel sees Spaniard, Fernando Alonso challenging Massa for the top-spot—but can the Renault match the Ferrari on this circuit, times show that he is matching but not managing to be quicker at this point.

Glock pits on lap thirty-seven, a long stop suggests that he is fuelled until the end and he rejoins the circuit behind Rosberg and takes 14th place.

Massa makes his second stop of the afternoon on lap 38 and Alonso takes the lead.  A 9.4s stop from the Brazilian championship contender will just about see him to the end as far as fuel is concerned, you must remember that in the early stint of the race that the cars aren't pushing as hard because of the wet circuit, this cuts fuel consumption down as they were lapping at around six seconds a lap slower than they would on a dry track.

Lap fourty see's race leader, Fernando Alonso, pit and we see McLaren ready in the lane ready to welcome Hamilton just a lap later—an 8.9s stop suggests he may go to the end as well.  The championship leader rejoins the race in sixth with two of the front runners still to pit, Kovalainen and Raikkonen.

A busy pit lane as we head into 43.  Rosberg, Kovalainen, Heidfeld, and Raikkonen all take to the garages and all look to fuel until the end of the race, around the nine second mark—a clean stop from all.

Lap 50 and Hamilton hits some traffic, Fisichella moves out of the way and as he does not only does Hamilton get past, but Robert Kubica puts in a sly move to take position.

Second place man, Sebastian Vettel goes in for what we believe is his final pit of the session on lap 52, all the front-runners are now fueled to the end of the race, and now the championship comes down to driver skill and the pace of the car.

From lap 54 and Vettel is closing in quickly on Hamilton, surely Hamilton won't bother fighting with the Toro Rosso, he doesn't need too, he will still be in fifth and will still secure the championship even if the German does go past.

The first indications of more rain hit the drivers eardrums on lap 58, just what the front-runners, especially Hamilton, didn't want to hear.  This just adds more pressure onto the 23 year old McLaren Driver's shoulders.

Rain is inevitable as drivers are warned to pit as soon as they feel rain on their visors, the call Hamilton didn't want to hear has come, and it has bought Sebastian Vettel with it- right up the McLarens engine.

On lap 64, just seven laps from the end and the rain comes, it starts of light but as we head into lap 65, the pit lane begins to get busy as Fisichella pits followed by Heidfeld, Barrichello and Rosberg.

The front runners don't show any sign of changing their tires until the rain really starts to come down and on laps 67, with just four laps remaining, second place man, Fernando Alonso, and third place man, Kimi Raikkonen take to the pits to once again put on some Intermediate Bridgestones.

Hamilton, now madly defending against Vettel gives in also, and is followed down the pit lane by the 21 year old German.

Just a lap later and race leader, Felipe Massa, gets a change of rubber to finish the race with a very quick change and Massa heads back onto the track still in P1, surely he has won the race now?

Crucially, both Toyota's haven't stopped and with Glock as a front-runner could this prove crucial?  Can Glock keep his Toyota between the white lines and avoid the walls?

As we get just three laps from the end, Hamilton is still in fifth, and the title is almost his, all Massa can do at this moment is hope that some kind of technical failure falls onto Hamilton's MP4-23 or he makes a mistake.

On lap 69, Vettel shows Hamilton that he isn't there to help him as he passes the Brit, Hamilton has to take this place back otherwise his Championship is gone—his heart must be racing faster than his McLaren at the moment.  The move happened as Robert Kubica slowed the McLaren driver to un-lap himself—he is entitled to do this if his BMW is riding quicker.

As we head into the final lap, Massa is currently going to be crowned champion, Lewis cannot win the championship in sixth position, a count-back of finishing positions throughout the season indicates both drivers have finished first the same amount of times, but Massa has finished second on more occasions.

Massa crosses the line in first, Ferrari believe they have the championship and start celebrating as they know Hamilton is in sixth, Fernando Alonso crosses the line in second, Hamilton must pass a slowing Glock before the line to win the title!

The final corner is upon the 23 year old Stevenage-born driver and he can see the gearbox of Glock.  The Toyota spins a little as it fights for traction, Vettel and Hamilton pass the German, Hamilton is in fifth.  They cross the line and Hamilton becomes the 2008 World Driver's Champion.  Britain gets its first Champion in 12 years. 

Massa, well, his world has just come tumbling down on top of him, if Glock's Toyota had held on for another eight seconds, he would have been Champion.

Hamilton becomes the youngest ever Formula One World Drivers Champion, Ferrari take the Constructor's Championship and I have no nails left!

Post Race Reation: Lewis Hamilton

Speaking on the topic of his Championship win, Hamilton said, "I don’t think it has hit home yet, I just had the most intense race of my life and my heart is still racing, I’m just so thankful for the opportunity the team gave me. Huge respect to McLaren and Mercedes-Benz for giving me a wonderful opportunity, for everyone involved with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and my family who came here and supported me and people back home as well, without them I wouldn’t be doing this.

"Felipe did an amazing job today, congratulations for his win and for challenging me all year but it’s great to be on top."

When asked how he felt on the final few laps Hamilton told the press, "My heart was about to explode, just like yours. I don’t know how I kept my cool and I was very fortunate especially on the last lap and you know, this has been my dream."

The final few corners of the race were extremely dramatic, and Lewis looked to be struggling with pace.

"I had a problem with my tyres, they were beginning to grain, there was nothing I could do, I was just trying to keep my car on the track. My heart was in my mouth and I was trying to get back in front of him. Fortunately, there was the opportunity to get back in front of Glock and I did what I had to do. We came, we saw and we did what we needed to do. "

"Just before I got to him [Glock], they said you have to get past Glock. I was trying my hardest to get to Vettel but he was just as quick as me—if not quicker. It was one of the toughest races of my life—if not the toughest. "

Describing his feeling when he crossed the finish line, Hamilton said, "I didn’t know [I'd got the championship], I was shouting—‘do I have it? do I have it?’ As I came into turn one they told me—I was ecstatic, just ecstatic. "

In a final word before Lewis had to sit down and try to take in what had happened, the 2008 WDC thanked his team and explained what it was like to be the Champion, "I am speechless, I am struggling to say anything. I’m just thankful and proud of the team and everyone around me. I am so thankful I could return the favour. It is the dream, this is the dream. This is the dream for other kids and other families. Thank you. "

Final Standings at the End of the Brazilian Grand-Prix

1.  MASSA         Ferrari

2.  ALONSO        Renault       +13.2s

3.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari       +16.2s

4.  VETTEL        Toro Rosso    +38.0s

5.  HAMILTON      McLaren       +38.9s

6.  GLOCK         Toyota        +44.3s

7.  KOVALAINEN    McLaren       +55.0s

8.  TRULLI        Toyota        +68.4s

9.  WEBBER        Red Bull      +79.6s

10. HEIDFELD      BMW           +1 lap

11. KUBICA        BMW           + 1 lap

12. ROSBERG       Williams      + 1 lap

13. BUTTON        Honda         + 1 lap

14. BOURDAIS      Toro Rosso    +1 lap

15. BARRICHELLO   Honda         +1 lap

16. SUTIL         Force India   +2 laps

17. NAKAJIMA      Williams      +2 laps

18. FISICHELLA    Force India   +2 laps

R.  PIQUET        Renault       +71 laps

R.  COULTHARD     Red Bull      +71 laps

Final Standings, thanks to ITV

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