Massa wins Brazilian GP, Hamilton wins title
In the most exciting finish to an F1 championship fight ever, Felipe Massa did what he had to do by scoring the win in his Ferrari in very difficult weather conditions. Lewis Hamilton appeared to be choking once again as Sebastian Vettel smoked him in the rain with just two laps to go putting him in 6th, meaning he lost the title.
However, Hamilton passed Timo Glock who got sideways (on a wet track with his dry tires) with just two corners to go to move up to 5th place and win the World Drivers Championship by just a single point over Massa.
At 23 years old Hamilton becomes the youngest driver to ever a F1 title, beating the 2005 mark of Spain's Fernando Alonso by four months.
Fernando Alonso drove another brilliant race to finish 2nd in his Renault and Kimi Raikkonen brought his Ferrari home 3rd.
Kovalainen took seventh, with Trulli completing the points scorers in eighth, ahead of Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld.
But then the rain returned with just seven laps remaining, and everyone pitted for wet tires except the Toyotas, with Glock rising to fourth, ahead of Hamilton and Vettel.
Hamilton still looked set to take the title in 5th, until he choked and ran wide at the final corner when Robert Kubica dived through to unlap himself with just three laps to go. That Vettel passed him as well, and the title had slipped away from Hamilton again.
But within sight of the flag his luck changed once more, with Glock struggling for grip on the last lap as the rain increased, allowing the McLaren to sweep through and back into fifth place.
The Felipe Massa camp in the Ferrari garage, having watched the Brazilian driver race to a dominant victory from pole position, initially celebrated winning the world championship against the odds -- before a sober team mechanic turned scenes of delight into despair by shouting the words "No, No!".
Massa, having also initially believed he had won the title, was in tears when he pulled into parc ferme, but ultimately congratulated Hamilton, declaring he knows "how to win, and how to lose, but for sure I am very emotional".
"That is racing. The race finishes at the checkered flag," said the devastated 27-year-old, who finishes the season one point shy of the title.
"We need to congratulate Lewis as he did a great championship, he scored more points than us so he deserves to be champion," said Massa.
Emotions were also running high when a reporter for the British broadcaster asked Hamilton for his thoughts in pitlane, before father and manager Anthony intervened, insisting his 23-year-old charge - now the youngest winner of the drivers' title in F1 history - return to the McLaren garage for a drink.
Hamilton Snr had already expressed his displeasure with the booing ranks of Brazilians, claiming the Massa supporters "should be sportspeople".
After regaining his composure, and a long and tearful embrace with his father, Lewis Hamilton recalled the sheer drama of the decisive final lap of the 2008 season.
"He (Vettel) got past me and I was told I had to get in front of him, and I couldn't believe it.
"I was trying my hardest to get to Vettel but he was just as quick as me, if not a little bit quicker.
"Then at the last corner I managed to get past Glock and I'm telling you it was just amazing. It was one of the toughest races of my life, if not the toughest," said the new world champion.
Hamilton raised his hand into the air to celebrate while still driving his car. After getting out of his car, he ran over to hug McLaren team engineers.
Massa told a post-race news conference he was ``very, very emotional.''
``I'm so proud about the race, the team, the people who supported me,'' Massa said. ``Unfortunately we missed out by one point -- but that's racing.''
As if the protagonists' emotion was not enough, a physical scuffle broke out among the clamoring ranks of press and camera men, as they elbowed for position at the back of the McLaren garage.
The atmosphere on the grid at Interlagos was electric with seemingly every single spectator chanting "Felipe, Felipe!" as the Brazilian sat on pole position, with the fans on the start line nearer to the track than at any other venue. Jarno Trulli's Toyota lined up alongside, while Kimi was behind his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate. In fourth spot, with the comfort of a seven point lead was Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren Mercedes. The threat of rain had gradually reduced during the day, even if it had not disappeared completely. Incredibly, with just a couple of minutes to go to the start of the formation lap, a five minute deluge hit the track and the organizers aborted the start, delaying it by ten minutes. The rain had stopped but the track was wet enough for the cars to switch to intermediate rain tires.
As the two Ferrari got away in grid position order with Trulli between them, an accident further down the field brought out the safety car immediately on lap 1. The question now was would drivers profit from this to dive into pit lane to fit dry tires, or would they stay out. One of the cars involved in the tangle was the Red Bull Renault of David Coulthard who therefore had a very rapid end to his long F1 career. Piquet was also out in the Renault. The order behind the SC was Massa, Trulli, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel, (up from seventh,) Alonso fighting off Kovalainen, with Bourdais in the last of the points positions.
On lap 7, Kimi made his first but unsuccessful attempt to get past Trulli, as Rosberg was the first to pit for dry tires. Button and Bourdais followed, then Glock and Sutil. Vettel was the first of the front runners to switch tires and he was followed in by Alonso.
Massa came in next time round, as did Kovalainen and Heidfeld, the McLaren man having a slow stop. The order was now Trulli, Raikkonen, Hamilton, but this trio all came in next, with Kimi getting ahead of the Toyota at the stop. The order was now Massa, Vettel, Alonso, as Trulli had a big sideways moment coming down the hill. Fourth was Kimi followed by Fisichella, yet to stop, Hamilton, Glock, Bourdais, Trulli with Heidfeld completing the top ten. Hamilton passed Fisichella to move up to fifth on lap 18. Massa led Vettel by almost a second, while Kimi fourth was ten seconds behind his team-mate. Vettel then put in a fastest lap closing slightly on Felipe on lap 22. Next it was Massa do to a fastest lap. Vettel was running lighter than the leader and pitted on lap 26,promoting Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton to second, third and fourth, with Alonso four seconds behind the Brazilian. Glock came in from fifth on lap 36, pretty much the halfway point of the 71 lap race.
Felipe refilled on lap 37, rejoining in fourth place, with everyone ahead of him still to pit, as Alonso now led for Renault, but only for one lap as the Spaniard came in next time round. He was followed in by Hamilton, who rejoined sixth. Kimi pitted from the lead next time round, which meant the order was now, Massa, Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber (who had only stopped once) Kovalainen, Glock, Trulli and Heidfeld rounding off the top ten. With 20 laps to go, Vettel came in from second to make his final stop, rejoining fifth, so that Massa now led Alonso by almost ten seconds, with Kimi a further 7.4 behind in third. Hamilton was 6 down on the Finn, with Vettel 2.9 behind the McLaren in fifth spot. With eleven laps to go, Kimi had closed to within 2.3 of second placed Alonso. On lap 61, the gap came down to 1.7. It was 1.2 on lap 62.
And at this point, the forecast predicted more rain in the final laps and indeed with six laps to go the rain began. Kimi came in for intermediates with 5 laps to go, followed by Hamilton and Vettel. Then Massa came in, stationary for just 5.5 seconds as he too took on intermediate rain tires.
The order was now Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Glock Hamilton, with Vettel only 1.2 behind the Englishman. Would the McLaren driver be passed by the Toro Rosso, which would hand Felipe the title if he won the race? There were only three laps to go and Vettel had closed the gap to 0.8.
Then the unbelievable happened, as Glock passed Vettel with both men getting past Hamilton as he ran wide. For a few moments it seemed Felipe would achieve his dream. But Glock was still on dry tires and in difficulty, so that first Vettel and then Hamilton went past him.
The podium saw an emotional Felipe flanked by second placed Alonso and third placed Kimi. The other points went to Vettel, Hamilton, Glock, Kovalainen and Trulli.
Fastest lap: Massa, 1:13.376
Final World Championship standings
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