• Brazilan Grand Prix 2008

Hamilton wins title in dramatic finale

ESPNF1 Staff
Lewis Hamilton celebrates after his epic last lap secured the drivers' title © Getty Images

One of the most dramatic races in the history of the world championship was played out in Brazil to crown a new champion: Lewis Hamilton.

With rain falling minutes before the start, the race was delayed to allow teams a chance to change onto the correct tyres for the 71-lap race. When it finally got underway, Felipe Massa stormed into the lead from pole knowing that he had to win the race come what may. Behind him, Hamilton ran fourth and seemed set for the title when the Brazilian weather offered a final twist.

With 10 laps to go, it began to drizzle. Hamilton pitted on lap 66 for wet tyres, Massa came in a lap later. Toyota, though, left Timo Glock out on dry tyres and was flying. The rain worsened though and he couldn't compete with the wet-shod cars behind him.

Massa won by 13 seconds, and with Hamilton in sixth place the celebrations began at Ferrari. Alonso took the flag second, Kimi Raikkonen third, Sebastian Vettel took fourth and two corners from home Glock was fifth - that would deny Hamilton the title. Climbing uphill, though, the Toyota, now definitely on the wrong rubber, couldn't get the power down and Hamilton charged past. Fifth was his as was the title.

Ferrari had started to celebrate too soon but graphic television images showed the folly of their impetuosity as the timing screens showed the mechanics and the Massa family the truth. Felipe had missed out by one point and it had all happened in the last two corners.

"I have been through completely mixed emotions," said Massa. "There are always explanations for what happens in life. It just wasn't meant to be."

As for Hamilton, he acknowledged the drama. "I thought I was going to explode at one point," he said. "My heart was in my mouth. I don't know how I kept my cool but I did the job I came here to do. I am just delighted."

Hamilton, the youngest world champion at 23 years , nine months and 26 days, won the crown by a point from Massa with Raikkonen a further 22 points back after a turbulent season.

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