Sunday, November 02, 2008

The car in front is a Toyota

Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes Benz headquarters i...Image via WikipediaWhat a finale to the season with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton ending the Formula 1 season as the 30th - and youngest-ever - world champion and what a way to do it as well. Going into the final race with a seven point advantage over Massa, Lewis just had to keep composure and finish in no less than fifth place. Then it wouldn't matter where Massa finished because Hamilton would have the points required to become world champion.

Easier said than done, especially as being British always seems to mean that we have to do it the hard way. After the events last year where Lewis led by a similar margin over Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and ended up losing out on the title by one point, I wasn't looking at this race as being anything but easy!

Hamilton started the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend as title favourite but with Massa taking pole position Lewis had it all to do, on his rivals home circuit. Qualifying in fourth place wasn't ideal, with Massa, Trulli and Raikkonen all in front of him and the Renault of Alonso in his mirrors anything could happen. Although with Kovalainen in fifth the strategy must have been for Heikki to offer Lewis protection.

Any form of strategy must have gone out the window as the race was about to start today, as the rain started to fall postponing the start for several minutes. This led to a cautious start to the Brazilian Grand Prix but sadly David Coulthard waved goodbye to his Formula 1 career by bowing out in the first corner following an incident with Williams’ Nico Rosberg, leading to the safety car being deployed. From the restart Massa commanded proceedings and never looked in trouble out in front. Hamilton on the other hand jostled for position in and around the fifth place region, knowing what was expected of him and that he just needed to stay composed to be crowned champion.

Rain had been forecast to fall again but it wasn't until the closing stages that it decided to have a bearing on the race. This then prompted the first five - Massa, Renault’s Fernando Alonso, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton and Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel - to pit for wet tyres. Crucially, Timo Glock, running sixth for Toyota, did not. Clearly with the momentum Vettel looked very competitive and much faster than the McLaren of Hamilton. Vettel pushed Hamilton hard and passed him with two laps to go, leading to the nail-biting finish.

Going into the final lap with it all looking over for another year for Hamilton, Timo Glock - who had started the final lap 18 seconds ahead of Hamilton - was struggling with the conditions and Hamilton was able to pass him and rob Massa of the world championship. There were amazing scenes in the pit lane as Ferrari and McLaren teams both celebrated but once it filtered through that Lewis was champion the Ferrari team looked crushed.

Congratulations to all involved as it's been an amazing rise to glory, you can't say that Lewis hasn't earned this what with the spygate controversy, rivalry within the team, penalties and growing envy. The team have overcome that and now hopefully this will be the first of many titles! Ferrari will be back strong next year and having secured the Constructors they will surely want to win back the title from Lewis, who had this to say after winning;

"The most dramatic race of my whole life,” said Hamilton. “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.
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