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F1 Race Review: 2008 Season Finale

It may not have been the best race for Lewis Hamilton as he took the chequered flag after four cars had passed, but that fifth place was enough for him to clinch the world title and take over from Fernando Alonso as the Sport's youngest Drivers Champion. The podium saw three disappointed men who were just as shattered as were the fans gathered to cheer home hero Massa whose win turned meaningless for the title.

In the past, Ferrari had mostly done well at the Interagos circuit with Ferrari winning the last two races and Massa third time on pole for Sunday. Splitting him and fourth placed Lewis were Trulli and ally Kimi. With conditions overcast, rain threw a surprise as the cars lined up on the grid. Following the announcement of a 10 minute delayed start, most teams changed to intermediate wets to tackle the slippery conditions.

Early overtaking manoeuvres saw Fernando and Vettel take the better of Lewis. For a while, pit lane poker even led to Fisichella's Force India being ahead of the title leader. At various times, Lewis either dropped to sixth or rose to fourth while his team mate Heikki Kovalainen's first lap shenanigans pushed him down the order. With a 1-3, it was nearly certain that the Constructors title was in the bag for the Scuderia.

As both Massa and Hamilton families watched the nail biting battle towards the end, Kubica's unlapping move over Lewis gave the best opportunity for Vettel to overtake the title leader and put him in sixth place and thus out of title contention. But with moments to go to chequered flag Glock mysteriously and dubiously slowed down allowing Vettel and Lewis to pass, thus handing the title to Lewis by one point.

Is Lewis a worthy Champion? Or was he merely lucky? He may not match Fernando in race-craft or Kimi, Kubica or Vettel in raw talent, but this guy bagged most points than anyone else since he began at Albert Park last year. Maybe he was lucky to race with a top team right-away, but this neither undermines his efforts nor the struggles of his father Anthony who had worked three jobs to keep his son karting.

For the record books though, a Briton has won a championship 12 years after Damon Hill did it in 1997 and McLaren gets a Drivers title 9 years after achieving it with Mika Hakkinen in 1999, when Ferrari won the team title. The Constructors' title still eludes the Woking based team that last did it in 1998. But after a winless trough in 2006 and the shameful spy saga in 2007, Ron Dennis must now be heaving a sigh of relief.

Ferrari may have won the title for their team, but the prestige associated with winning the drivers' title is something that the scarlet team missed solely due to their reliability gremlins. In my opinion, McLaren had a better car and better pit work this year and Massa in amazing form did fewer errors than Lewis; but fate it seems had other plans switching titles. So long till the 18 race 2009 season begins down under on March 29!
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