Review of the year: All hail the new king of the road

If 2007 was the most acrimonious year in recent Formula One history, 2008 marked a welcome turning point. As the FIA president, Max Mosley, found himself in the spotlight, courtesy of a sex scandal that erupted in March, Ferrari and McLaren buried the hatchet and instead indulged in a gripping sporting duel which saw the honours divided equally after a fabulous denouement in Brazil – Lewis Hamilton became Formula One's youngest world champion, at the tender age of 23; Ferrari won the constructors' championship.

While McLaren-Mercedes dusted themselves off after a bruising 2007, Ferrari regrouped in the aftermath of the Jean Todt win-at-all-costs era around a young man called Stefano Domenicali and, as a result, regained much of their old bounce, joie de vivre and respect. It was as if there was an understanding at last that you cannot win them all; a crucial factor in alleviating the spite that had been such a characteristic of the previous year.

The 2007 champion, Kimi Raikkonen, unaccountably lost his way, leaving his team-mate, Felipe Massa, to emerge as Ferrari's genuine world championship contender. Massa and Hamilton fought their duel across the tracks of the globe, each having his days in the sun (or, in Hamilton's case in Monaco and Silverstone, in the rain) until the sudden change in weather conditions in Massa's Interlagos home town saw Hamilton only just snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the most sensational championship finale in history.

But if Massa lost the battle he won the humanity war with his stoic acceptance of the cruelty of fate, and his exemplary behaviour in the post-race press conference which gained him the respect – as driver and man – that has long been his due.

Hamilton was none the less a worthy champion. Like Massa, he won a lot of races – five to the Brazilian's six. Three – Monaco, Silverstone and Germany – came in tricky situations which enabled him yet again to reveal a mastery that has convinced many observers he is the best man out there.

In Massa, Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kub-ica, however, there are at least four other drivers of similar calibre who will undoubtedly keep him honest. And there are signs of others coming through who will also leave their mark, given the right chances.

A highlight of 2008 was the superb performance of BMW- Sauber, who for the first half of the season, courtesy of Kubica, made it a three-horse title race. Subsequently Renault showed signs of awakening from their post-Alonso slumber, while Toyota could be satisfied with their progress and Toro Rosso achieved a stand-out win at Monza thanks to their rising star Sebastian Vettel.

The euphoria of the Brazilian showdown was soured a month later by Honda's shock withdrawal. The credit-crunch need to slash costs suddenly became even more urgent. Green issues have already placed the sport under an obligation to embrace ecological concerns, but there is nothing like money problems to hit where it hurts. Regulation changes will help on both the environmental and sporting fronts.

Reports of the sport's imminent collapse are widely exaggerated, but it is on notice to polish up its act.

News
news
Sport
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
rugby
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
health
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral