Sunday, November 02, 2008

Brazilian Grand Prix

Brazilian Grand Prix
Sao Paulo
Sunday 2 November 2008

Track: 4.31 km
Laps: 71

The Race
If you have heard that this was an exciting race, you were misinformed. This Brazilian Grand Prix will go down in history as one of the all-time great Formula 1 races.

The scene was set with a young up-start who appeared on the scene just one year ago and proceeded to demolish former world champions with apparent ease. The fact that Lewis Hamilton had the World Championship within his grasp in his first year just left everyone open-mouthed. When he lost to Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, there was a feeling of relief within the Formula 1 family. This year there was no mistaking Hamilton’s intent and after several impetuous mistakes, he almost visibly became a calmer, more assured and responsible driver. He came to Sao Paulo this year with a 7 point lead over Felipe Massa, his only rival for the title.

Thunder clouds were gathering as the cars lined up and the start was postponed as the first heavy raindrops fell. The safety car was brought out as the rain eased off but, with the forecast of no further rain for 40 minutes, the cars got away just a few minutes later. Led by Massa, Jarno Trulli, Raikkonen and Hamilton, the expected drama at the first corner came from those who followed. Heikki Kovaleinen, who was supposed to protect Hamilton’s rear, was himself overtaken by both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. David Coulthard’s last F1 race ended shortly afterwards, having been hit by Rosberg and then by Nakajima. Nelsinho Piquet’s race was also over in this first lap. The resulting carnage meant the safety car emerging until the track was cleared on lap 4. As soon as the track began to dry, Alonso and Vettel dived into the pits for a tyre change. The leaders followed but somehow Hamilton managed to lose a place and was then slowed by Adrian Suthill (Force India).

There was a belief that the Ferraris were on a 2-stop strategy for fuel but this proved to be wrong as Massa stayed out until lap 38, by which time he had pulled out over 20 seconds on Hamilton. Alonso was next to pit, followed by Raikkonen and Hamilton. Raikkonen pitted for just 5.1 seconds to get out ahead of Hamilton, who was now lying 5th. With just 14 laps remaining, cars were alerted to rain due in ten minutes. Nick Heidfeld was first to pit, followed by Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. Massa came in but rejoined the race still in the lead. Timo Glock stayed out on dry tyres which drew him up into 4th place. As the rain got heavier, Vettel overtook Hamilton with just 3 laps to go, pushing the young Briton into 6th place and out of the championship! Hamilton tried everything to get back, but Vettel was just too quick. Coming into the final straight, the Ferrari team were on their feet cheering Massa. As Vettel and Hamilton raced through the final bend, they caught and passed Glock who was struggling on dry tyres. Massa wins the Brazilian Grand Prix but Hamilton wins the World Championship, the youngest driver to do so. Fernando Alonso drove a superb race to take second place and move up to fifth overall after a dismal first half of the season. Kimi Raikkonen was third and also moves up to third overall. Ferrari takes the Constructor’s championship once again with McLaren and BMW Sauber second and third.

What a superb end to the season!

Mike O’Neill

The top eight finishers were:
1 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
5 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
6 Timo Glock (Toyota)
7 Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren)
8 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)

Top ten drivers in 2008:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 99
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 98
3 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 75
4 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 75
5 Fernando Alonso (Renault) 61
6 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 60
7 Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) 53
8 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) 35
9 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 31
10Timo Glock (Toyota) 25

Top Teams in 2008:
1 Ferrari 172
2 McLaren 151
3 BMW Sauber 135
4 Renault 80
5 Toyota 56

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