Hamilton takes F1 title after last lap drama

Lewis Hamilton becomes the youngest ever winner of the Formula One world Championship after a thrilling Brazilian Grand Pri

Sunday 02 November 2008 19:48

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton roared into the record books as Formula One's youngest champion today after last lap drama at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Arguably the most dramatic end to a world title race in Formula One history culminated in Lewis Hamilton becoming the sport's youngest world champion.

As thunder boomed over Interlagos, and on a track becoming wetter by the second in the closing laps, Hamilton was on the verge of missing out.

Running in sixth and with title rival Felipe Massa running away with the expected race win, Hamilton's heart was about to be broken for a second time, as it was at this track a year ago.

But he can thank Toyota for taking the title as they failed to call in Timo Glock to take on wet tyres.

With the German still on dry rubber and running in fourth at the time, he slowly started to drop back.

Just one kilometre from the conclusion of the Brazilian Grand Prix, and at the penultimate corner, Hamilton passed Glock to claim fifth place - and with it the title.

In the end Hamilton became a champion by a point after so nearly losing it on race wins countback to Massa.

Renault's Fernando Alonso was second, with Massa's Ferrari team- mate Kimi Raikkonen third, giving the Maranello marque the consolation prize of the constructors' title.

Sebastien Vettel finished fourth in his Toro Rosso, followed by a relieved Hamilton.

A naturally disappointed Massa said: "We've had ups and downs and we've paid for that.

"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."

The tributes are already pouring in for Lewis Hamilton. Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said

"This is a remarkable feat from an exceptionally talented and dedicated young man and an historic day for British

motor racing. Lewis Hamilton's victory today is something everyone in the UK can feel proud of and I am sure he will help to

inspire the next generation of sporting champions. "

The Motor Sports Association - governing body of UK motor sport - also paid tribute to Hamilton.

Chief executive Colin Hilton said: "His performances since his arrival in Formula One last year have set the world alight.

"He has demonstrated his extraordinary talent, commitment and determination to become the youngest ever F1 world champion.

"For those of us who have watched his progress and witnessed his development over more than a decade in the UK's junior formulae, his success comes as no surprise...it is fantastic news for the whole of British motor sport.

"Nearly half of the current Formula One drivers learned their trade in the United Kingdom's domestic championships and Lewis' success brings further credibility to the UK as the world's best proving ground for young racing drivers.

"But even more importantly, Lewis is providing an incredible platform from which to develop motor sport in this country.

"The British public has been gripped by Lewis' exploits and the sport is enjoying more media coverage than ever before.

"More and more people, from all kinds of backgrounds, are becoming interested in the sport.

"Let us delight in Lewis' marvellous achievements and celebrate with him the fact he has become the UK's ninth Formula One world champion."

Key moments from today's final Formula One Grand Prix of the season in Brazil.

Lap one - Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton retain their positions after negotiating the first corner safely but the safety car is deployed after Nelson Piquet collides with David Coulthard. The Scot spins off the track and retires to bring his Formula One career to an unfortunate end.

Lap 10 - Massa come into the pits to change to dry tyres and re-joins the race in fourth.

Lap 11 - Hamilton follows suit but a poor pit stop leaves him in seventh.

Lap 12 - The Briton overtakes Jarno Trulli into sixth.

Lap 18 - Hamilton sneaks past Giancarlo Fisichella on the straight to move into the fifth position he needs to secure the championship.

Lap 27 - Sebastian Vettel comes into the pits for the second time which moves Hamilton up to fourth.

Lap 38 - Massa comes in for his second stop of the race and re-joins in seventh with Fernando Alonso now heading the field.

Lap 40 - The McLaren mechanics delay Hamilton's departure from the pit lane with a slow pit and he drops to sixth.

Lap 45 - Massa looks set for victory as he stretches his lead to 4.1 seconds over Vettel.

Lap 67 - Rain falls once more at Interlagos and Massa and Hamilton both pit for a change of tyre. Massa returns to the fold in the lead with Hamilton in fifth but Vettel is breathing down his neck.

Lap 68 - Vettel is becoming a permanent fixture in Hamilton's wing mirrors. He is barely half a second behind the Briton and nibbling at his heels.

Lap 70 - Hamilton's title aspirations look to be in tatters as he is overtaken by Vettell with one lap to go.

Lap 71 - Massa celebrates as he crosses the line in first but they turn out to be short-lived as Hamilton overtakes Timo Glock to claim fifth place to win the Formula One title.

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