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F1 2008, Round 18 - Brazil // The championship decider at Interlagos is an emotional affair

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

The whole season has been building up to this Grand Prix. The last few races have escalated the championship battle Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, and this was the final title decider. In the end it came down to the very last moments. Here’s how it played out.

Hamilton and Massa both looked very strong in the practice sessions ahead of the Grand Prix, but Massa managed to hold off the competition to take pole position at his home circuit. The crowd were behind him all the way. Hamilton lined up fourth on the grid, as both Räikkönen and Trulli managed to get in front of him. Trulli was a complete surprise, as Toyota haven’t looked as strong as the front runners all season, and there was no reason for them to run a super aggressive strategy.

Nevertheless, race day dawned, and as our cars lined up for their formation lap, a sudden shower took everyone by surprise. The start was delayed by ten minutes as the rain passed, and the tyre strategies were suddenly paramount. All but Kubica started on intermediate wet tyres, with the BMW diving into the pit lane as soon as they got going.

The first corner was relatively clean, with only two incidents further back in the field. Coulthard was tapped by Rosberg and spun off, colliding with Nakajima in the other Williams on his way. The Red Bull driver was out of the race, and bowed out of the sport on a low note. Piquet also spun off, and even he isn’t clear exactly what knocked him out of the race.

Things settled down somewhat, with Massa scampering away in the lead, and Hamilton just managing to cling on to fifth place – exactly what he needed to take the championship by one point. There were plenty of pit stops and tyre changes, and things remained pretty much the same. Then with just eight laps to go, the rain returned. Most had to pit again, unscheduled this time, to put the intermediate tyres on. The only two drivers remaining on dry tyres were Glock and Trulli.

In the last few laps, Hamilton fell behind Vettel on track, meaning he was in sixth, just outside of a championship winning position. He chased after the Toro Rosso but it didn’t look like he was going to make it. Massa crossed the line in first, and believed he had won the championship but on the last corner, Glock began to fall back, unable to get the grip out of his tyres to make it up the hill. Hamilton got past him and beat him to the line by just 5 seconds, meaning he did finish fifth and secured the world championship.

An amazing race to finish off an incredible year.