Lewis Hamilton Wins The 2008 F1 Driver's Championship In Brazil
In a very suspenseful race at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil yesterday, 23 year old Lewis Hamilton became the youngest driver ever in F1's history to become a Formula 1 World Champion. With a hard fought challenge by his rival Felipe Massa in the Ferrari, the championship race was an extremely close result. At the start of the last lap (lap 71), Felipe Massa was in first position and fimly leading the points for the driver's championship title, with Hamilton holding just a sixth place finishing position on the circuit. But in the closing seconds of the race, and on the final lap, Lewis Hamilton pushed to the limits in the rain and passed Toyota's Timo Glock to take fifth, while securing himself just enough points for the championship.
Felipe Massa then went on to take the win in the Ferrari, but unfortunately for him, the 2008 driver's title went to Hamilton, who had held a leadership position throughout the season in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Massa put in an excellent effort throughout the weekend, and showed his skills in the rain as it began to pour heavily in the latter part of Sunday's race. Massa's consolation for not winning the overall championship title, was to win yesterday on his home track in Sao Paulo, in front of all of the Brazilians who had come to Interlagos to cheer him on. As he stood on the podium with the Brazilian national anthem playing, he held back tears from a weekend in which he had given every ounce of effort to qualify on pole, and then win the race.
As the sun set at Interlagos circuit yesterday, Hamilton had won the title by just one point over Massa (98 vs. 97 points). In the Constructor's Championship, Ferrari took home the win with 172 points versus the 151 points of the second place finishers, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team.
In the run-up to the start of the race it began to pour heavily and FIA decided to delay the start so all teams could switch to rain tires. The start itself was uneventful and Felipe Massa pulled away in first and was followed in fourth by Lewis Hamilton. Shortly after the start, the safety car was deployed due to accident between David Coulthard (Red Bull Renault) and Nelson Piquet (Renault), and it was re-started on lap 5. Lap 9 saw Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Toro Rosso) and Fernando Alonso (Renault) go into the pits for fuel and a change to dry tires. On Lap 11, Lewis Hamilton was also in for fuel and a set of dry tires, and he rejoined the track in seventh place.
Hamilton was able to overtake Jarno Trulli (Toyota) on lap 13 and then on lap 18, he overtook and outbraked Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India Ferrari) to move up to fifth place. On lap 28, Vettel came in for his second pit, and Hamilton moved up into fourth position. Felipe Massa brought his Ferrari into the pits on lap 38, which gave Hamilton third place, behind Alonso (Renault) and Raikkonen (Ferrari). On lap 40, it was time for Hamilton to take his second pit and this put him back into sixth place when he exited the pit lane.
On lap 65, it began to rain again and Lewis took his third pit and put on intermediate tires, and by lap 67 with the some of the other drivers also pitting to change tires, Hamilton was in fifth place and Massa was first in the Ferrari. On lap 69, the worst thing imaginable happened to Hamilton as Sebastian Vettel overtook him in the rain for fifth position and also the championship title deciding position, leaving Hamilton in sixth place.
Fortunately for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, they knew that Timo Glock was still lapping his Toyota on dry tires, so they radioed to Lewis to put the hammer down and try and pass either Vettel again or Glock. On the final lap of what must be one of the closest title deciders in Formula 1 history, Hamilton overtook Glock on the final corner for two extra points and the World Championship.
Lewis Hamilton's comments:
Lewis Hamilton was thrilled with finally obtaining the F1 World Championship in 2008 after losing it to Kimi Raikkonen by one point in 2007. Hamilton had the following to say:
"The most dramatic race of my whole life. It's pretty much impossible to put this into words: I'm still speechless. It's been such a long journey, but I've always had the support of my family, the team, our partners, and the fans. We did a fantastic job throughout the whole year and, with all the sacrifices we made, I'm so thrilled to be able to win this for everyone.
Before it started to rain, I was quite comfortable and I was just focused on having a clean race. Then it started to drizzle and I didn't want to take any risks - but Sebastian got past me and I was told I had to get back in front of him. I couldn't believe it. Then at the very last corner, I managed to get past Timo - it was just amazing. This was one of the toughest races of my life, if not the toughest. I was shouting, 'Do I have it? Do I have it? on the radio. It was only when I took the chequered flag and I turned into Turn One that the team told me I was world champion. I was ecstatic."