Got to hand it to Lewis

Hamilton completes fairytale journey – now the challenge is catch Schumacher

In the immediate aftermath, he said he simply could not believe he had won. Such were the dramatic circumstances of Lewis Hamilton's succession to the throne as the youngest world champion in the history of Formula One in Brazil last week.

For 38 nail-biting seconds, it seemed Felipe Massa had beaten him with less than two laps of the season to go. Then Hamilton overtook Timo Glock's struggling Toyota, almost within sight of the finish line, and suddenly the fairytale was real again.

"It's amazing," Hamilton gasped. "I can't get my breath back. It's been such a long journey with loads of support from back home."

Having lost the crucial fifth place he needed to Sebastian Vettel on the 70th of the 71 laps, he admitted: "I was trying to analyse everywhere I was losing time. I had no rear tyres left so I could not get close to him. Then they told me Glock was just ahead, on slick tyres and struggling.

"I came through Turn 11 and saw Vettel pass him, and he was just about to turn into the corner and I shot up the inside. At that point I relaxed and I was expecting the team to go, 'Woo-hoo, you've won the champ-ionship!' But they didn't, so I was panicking for a second..."

It was the greatest championship showdown in the sport's history, with the Ferrari camp momentarily believing Massa had won the title, McLaren believing their man had lost, and then Hamilton overtaking Glock in the final corner to regain the position he needed long after Massa had crossed the line a brilliant victor. Some great television coverage captured the moments when the Hamilton clan realised what had happened, when the awful truth hit the Massa family, and when Massa himself won and lost not just like a man, but like a king. There were two champions in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but only one will get a crown.

"As I crossed the line I was thinking, 'Do I have it'?" Hamilton revealed. "Once I found out, I was more emotional than ever. It was such a dream to repay the faith of McLaren."

And he admitted how exhausting he found the whole thing. "It took a lot out of me last year, but this year took even more. There was so much going on, with people pulling me left and right. I wanted to just embrace the moment, and I still am. It feels great. And I don't have to have that No 22 any more. I can have No 1 on my car, and that is the coolest thing."

McLaren's strategy called for fifth place, and Hamilton looked shaky at times when required to operate out of his element, which is hunting for victory. But now that the title monkey is off his back he stands on the threshold of a career that could see him set new benchmarks.

Britain's previous champion, Damon Hill, veteran of many on-track battles with Michael Schumacher, said: "Maybe Lewis will even challenge Michael's tally, though I think circumstances today are different, so that may be more difficult. But that will be the unfolding story with Lewis."

Hamilton says he will take valuable lessons from 2008, when he matured as a driver but also discovered just how punishing mistakes can be. "I think losing the 2007 world championship probably made me stronger and that is why we pulled through at the end of this one. This year we won some of the best races – Silverstone, Monaco, Germany – but there were races we lost either through a mistake from myself or by the team.

"People say the second year is harder,but I don't believe that. I think you just get stronger, you learn from mistakes, and hopefully I will continue to grow as a driver. If that means winning more championships, so be it."

When he visited the 1,000 employees at McLaren's Woking headquarters last Wednesday he told them: "I love this team, I'm going nowhere. This is the best team in the world. I'm very proud of everything McLaren have achieved. I used to go to the old headquarters and see Ayrton Senna's championship-winning car, and I used to touch the steering wheel and dream that some day I'd have one with my name on and the No 1 on the front. And now that dream has come true."

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker