Monday, November 3, 2008

FORMULA1/Brazilian Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton wins 2008 driver's title after stunning finish

FORMULA1 - Lewis Hamilton wins 2008 driver's title after stunning finish

Brazilian Grand Prix: How the race was won

Lewis Hamilton has become Formula One's youngest ever champion in the most dramatic fashion after finishing fifth in the season-ending Brazil Grand Prix at Interlagos.

As title rival Felipe Massa of Ferrari cruised to victory at his home grand prix, a late-race rain shower looked set to rob Hamilton of the championship after a stop for wet tyres dropped him to sixth, but he managed to overtake Timo Glock's Toyota with just seconds to spare as they entered the pit straight.

"It's pretty much impossible to put into words," a clearly emotional Hamilton said of his victory. "It's been such a long journey - all the sacrifices we've made, I'm so thrilled to do this for everyone.

"It was one of the toughest races of my life."

Ron Dennis, the McLaren chief, hailed Hamilton as a deserved champion. "He's a very special talent. He's the youngest ever world champion and he's done it so well," he said. "If you look at the statistics from all the races this year then you'll realise that.

"He has finished this season with more points than anyone over the last two seasons, so he's deserved it. We are delighted for him. We have enjoyed it a lot here and I'd like to thank all the English supporters for their support,"

Driving with great control, judgement and aided by luck, Hamilton avoided the problems that wrecked his bid to become the first rookie champion last year as he steered his McLaren Mercedes to glory after a tense contest.

Only on that amazing final lap did Hamilton regain the place he needed when German Glock lost 18 seconds in his Toyota and slipped behind him.

Until then, Hamilton's title hopes looked to have been washed away in an amazing late rainstorm but they were rescued in the final minute in front of an impassioned 100,000 crowd at the Interlagos circuit.

"The team didn't say anything so I though I was shot," Hamilton said. "When it started to drizzle, I didn't want to take any risks but at the final corner I got past Glock and I couldn't believe it. I thought 'do I have it, do I have it?' When they told me [I did] I was ecstatic.

"I have done enough and we made it. I can forget everything else.

The race, run in unpredictable wet and dry conditions, was won comprehensively by his nearest rival and local hero Massa who broke into tears on the victors' podium.

Hamilton, 23, drove a measured and calculated race to try and avoid trouble in his McLaren Mercedes car as he claimed the title at the end of only his second season. He allowed Massa in his Ferrari to run away at the front and claim his sixth win this year and the 11th victory of his career.

Massa was followed home by two times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault and third placed Ferrari team mate outgoing champion Finn Kimi Raikkonen.

German youngster Sebastien Vettel was fourth for Toro Rosso after passing Hamilton in the final laps and Hamilton fifth, just, after his late recovery when Glock slowed down and finished sixth. Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen of Finland came home seventh.

The result meant heartbreak for Massa, who had won two more races than Hamilton this season: "We've had ups and downs and we've paid for that." he said. "Sometimes you have a perfect year with a reliable car, and then sometimes you have these ups and downs, and that has been our championship.

"Everybody has worked hard, with heart, and they've done a great job. But we have to congratulate Lewis. He did a great championship, he scored more points than us, and he is a great champion.

"But I'm proud and I'm leaving the track with my head held high, although with mixed emotions We won the race and we have to be proud of that, but missing out by one point - that's racing.

"We need to be proud of our race and our championship. You learn how to win and to lose. It's one more day of my life, and I will learn a lot from it, but right now I am very emotional."

There was also disappointment for David Coulthard who crashed on the opening lap in his 246th and final grand prix, bringing a 15- season career to an end in an untimely fashion.

Hamilton's triumph made him first Briton to take the world title since Damon Hill in 1996 and the first McLaren champion since Finn Mika Hakkinen in 1999. He is Britain's ninth champion.

The previous youngest champion was two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Renault who was 24 years, one month and 27 days old when he won the title in 2005.

Hamilton was 23 years, nine months and 26 days old as he drove to glory, while Massa had been hoping to be the first Brazilian champion since Ayrton Senna in 1991.

Leading Final Positions after Race (71 Laps):

1. Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) 1:34:11.435
2. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Renault) at 13.298
3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) 16.235
4. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Toro Rosso) 38.011
5. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren) 38.907
6. Timo Glock (GER/Toyota) 44.368
7. Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/McLaren) 55.074
8. Jarno Trulli (ITA/Toyota) 1:08.463
9. Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull) 1:19.666
10. Nick Heidfeld (GER/BMW Sauber) 1 lap
11. Robert Kubica (POL/BMW Sauber) 1 lap
12. Nico Rosberg (GER/Williams) 1 lap
13. Jenson Button (GBR/Honda) 1 lap
14. Sibastien Bourdais (FRA/Toro Rosso) 1 lap
15. Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Honda) 1 lap
16. Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India) 2 lap ~
17. Kazuki Nakajima (JPN/Williams) 2 lap
18. Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA/Force India) 2 lap

Retirements:

Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA/Renault) - accident 1st lap
David Coulthard (GBR/Red Bull) - accident 1st lap

Final World Championship Standings after Brazilian Grand Prix

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 98 pts - champion 2 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 97, 3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 75, 4 Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 75, 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 61, 6 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 60, 7 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren 53, 8 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Scuderia Toro Rosso 35, 9 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 31, 10 Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 25, 11 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 21, 12 Nelson Piquet Jr. (Bra) Renault 19, 13 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams 17, 14 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Honda 11, 15 Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams 9, 16 David Coulthard (Gbr) Red Bull 8, 17 Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 4, 18 Jenson Button (Gbr) Honda 3

Constructers: 1 Ferrari 172pts, 2 McLaren 151, 3 BMW Sauber 135, 4 Renault 80, 5 Toyota 56, 6 Scuderia Toro Rosso 39, 7 Red Bull 29, 8 Williams 26, 9 Honda 14

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article5067553.ece

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