F1 2008 Champion: Any Guesses?

For the second season in a row, Lewis Hamilton heads into the Brazilian finale with a seven point lead over title rival Felipe Massa. Believing that the championship leader has learnt his lesson after losing narrowly last year, the pressure of local fans now mounts on Sao Paolo driver Massa who has to finish either first or second if he has to have any hope for the title. It is simpler for Lewis who needs to finish fifth or better.

Back in 2007, pundits predicted Lewis Hamilton to take the driver’s title in his rookie year as he headed into China with a 17 point lead and two races to go. It seemed that only an impossible twist can hand the title to anyone else. Soon enough, ill luck hit him. Lewis stuck his wheels in gravel at pit entry and retired handing the win to Kimi. The Brazilian drama saw Lewis fiddling with controls on track handing the Finn his first world title.

For Brazilian fans, local hero Massa’s led from pole to finish in 2006 in commemorative overalls as Alonso wrapped up his second title. It was the first time a Brazailian won the local round after Late Ayrton Senna. In the following season, Massa again led the show till the second round of pit stops where he gave way to team mate Kimi Raikkonen to take the lead and the Championship. This time around, the stakes are far higher.

Let us consider some scenarios! If Massa has to take the title, he (1) wins the race and Lewis finishes sixth or below (2) finishes second and Lewis ends eighth or worse. Things are simple for the leader Lewis who needs to (1) finish fifth or better irrespective of where Massa finishes (2) finish sixth if Massa wins (3) eighth if Massa comes second (4) in case of a zero point finish, he just has to hope Massa doesn’t win or come second.

Ron Dennis has already indicated that McLaren plan a risk less race for Lewis who could become the first black F1 Champion. But for Ferrari, it’s worse. Unlike Iceman Kimi, Felipe is known to crack under pressure and has won most of his races from pole or second than battle from behind. While Lewis has drawn many enemies for aggressive driving, Felipe can look for help from ally Alonso who is keen to see Lewis trounced.

For the math, Lewis and Massa have 94 and 87 points each. Behind them, Kubica and Raikkonen both have a chance for the third while Fernando is within striking distance of Nick Heidfeld for fifth notwithstanding his poorer car this year. For the constructors, Ferrari lead McLaren with 156 and the latter has 145. BMW has sealed their third with 135 and Renault bag the best of the rest fourth with 72. Keep your fingers crossed!