Sunday, 2 November 2008

Lewis Hamilton by the Skin of His Teeth

After eight months and 18 races in five continents, with 11 victories between them, as Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa crossed the finish line in the fog of battle, both their garages went up simultaneously in a cheer of celebration thinking their man had won the world championship. Indeed, when Massa finished his race in first place, Hamilton was in sixth place needing at least fifth to finish as champion. At the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season, Hamilton grabbed the fifth place necessary to win the Formula 1 world championship by a single point. It has never been closer in the 58 year history of the sport.

Lewis became the youngest world champion ever, just when luck seemed to be deserting him. Comfortably cruising in the needed fifth position with four laps to go, rain forced the first five to stop for a tyre change. Crucially, sixth placed Toyota of Timo Glock took the gamble and opted to stay out on slick tyres. Hamilton rejoined the race still in fifth but seemed in trouble when Sebastian Vettel of Torro Rosso overtook him with two laps to go. Much as he tried, Hamilton's car simply did not have the grip to reel back Vettel. But just as all hope was given up by the desperate English commentators on ITV, the forgotten Toyota of Glock came into view, struggling badly on slick tyres. In a flash, Hamilton was through and Britain had its first F1 champion in the 12 years since Damon Hill.

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