McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula One World Champion as the title was decided AFTER the Chequered Flag had waved down on Felipe Massa’s dramatic victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso finished second and Kimi Raikkonen third and that ensured the Constructors’ Championship was won by Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth – just enough to make him Champion. Dramas dominated at the fag end of the race as Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Hamilton with two laps to go thus dropping him to sixth place and thus ensuring Massa would become the Champion but Timo Glock’s Toyota – who was in fourth place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton – slowed down just before the finish line thus giving back fifth position to Hamilton, and thus making him the Champion.
There was a big surprise in store even before the red lights could go off as the rain started belting down on Interlagos before the formation lap and as a result, the race start was delayed by ten minutes. All the teams then strapped on intermediate tyres as the rain quickly stopped but the track was still wet. The start was pretty much hectic and everyone kept their places but the ones to lose out were David Coulthard, in his last Grand Prix who was tucked into a spin by Nico Rosberg; Heikki Kovalainen who was overtook by Fernando Alonso & Nelson Piquet, who spun out of his home grand prix. Felipe Massa kept his lead but teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to pass second placed Jarno Trulli in the opening laps. Hamilton did what he had to do – stay out of trouble & keep within fifth place – and was scarcely troubled.
Teams’ strategies were compromised as they had to make an extra pit stop to replace the intermediates with dry-weather tyres and temporary advantage-gainers were the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella, who ran as high as fifth before dropping down the order. Trulli also fell steadily down the order and it was Sebastian Vettel who initially troubled Massa at the head of the order. Fernando Alonso kept his good start intact and steadily ran in third place and towards the closing stages, had to fend off a charging Kimi Raikkonen.
But there was some more surprises in store as it started to rain with just five laps to go and all the drivers had to make a splash-and-dash pit stops for fitting on intermediate tyres. And amidst all of that, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel – with a Ferrari engine in the back – pulled off a stunning overtaking manoeuvre over Lewis Hamilton and thus put him in sixth place, which meant if it finished that way, Felipe Massa would become Champion. It was a nail-biting finale and as the Chequered Flag waved down on Felipe Massa, Vettel led Hamilton onto the finish line but crucially ahead of them, the Toyota of Timo Glock slowed down and let these two pass, which meant Vettel had finished fourth and Hamilton fifth, handing the WDC title back to Hamilton! It couldn’t have been scripted better than that!