The Almost Thunder From Down Under: Brazilian GP

Incredible, exhilarating, heart-stopping, unbelievable, emotional. Those are just five of the many hundreds of words that could be used to describe, what will go down in history, as one of the most exciting conclusions to a race in Formula One. This season has been filled with so many ups and downs, and this race seemed to combine all of them on the final corner of the final lap. That’s right, the season ending race actually came down to the end and if you didn’t see it, you missed one hell of a race.

But first let’s start in the logical spot; the beginning. What a way to begin a race. All the skies were a beautiful blue, until one black cloud appeared and dumped bucketloads of water onto most of the track. With the engineers frantically running into the pits to source some intermediate tires, Race Control aborted the start for ten minutes. This was just the beginning of one of the most exciting races and finishes in history. But for one man, the start would be his last. David Coulthard was in his last F1 start ever, and it ended after two corners. I wished him well in my last post, but apparently my well wishes don’t go all that far. He was spun by Nico Rosberg and then, with nowhere else to go, Kazuki Nakajima ran into the front of David’s Red Bull Renault. His race, and his career, was over after just two corners. It’s too bad that he couldn’t have raced to the finish and scored some points, but he will always have some wins in Monaco and Britain for him to remember fondly.

But the biggest story of the weekend coming in was the title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. Seven points separated the two men and with Felipe on pole and Lewis starting fourth, all Hamilton needed was to consolidate fifth position. The race got underway and everyone made it cleanly through the first corner, with Coulthard retiring after the second. The wet didn’t really affect anyone and the race went on. Massa rocketed into a lead that he would only give up in the pit stop rotation, ending up fourth at one point. But after the second stop, he would never lose his lead. The race looked to be Massa’s, with the championship going to Hamilton. That is, until the rains came.

Last year, it took a miracle screw up from Lewis to hand Kimi the title. This year, Mother Nature intervened and almost gave the race to the Ferrari driver once again, but a decision from another team eventually got the better of them and the drama all began with only three laps to go.

Rain came down on the Interlagos circuit and everyone dived for the pits; everyone except the Toyota team. They banked on the fact that with only three laps to go, they could hold out and finish the race on dry weather tires. They banked on this fact because the rain didn’t last that long and the circuit is only 2.6 miles long, so 8 miles shouldn’t be a problem. With Massa clearly in the lead, no one was going to catch him. He had been on a mission from the beginning and didn’t want to disappoint his fans. His race was sealed, but someone else’s wasn’t. Someone was catching up to Lewis Hamilton. Because everyone except Toyota came into pit, the running order with three laps to go was Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Glock, Hamilton, and Vettel. As it stood, Lewis would win the championship by one point over Massa. But Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso Ferrari had Hamilton in his sights. He had been steadily catching up to Hamilton before the pit stops, and now couldn’t afford to give up any track position. But in came the spoiler. From out of nowhere, the lapped BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica slashed in front of Vettel and Hamilton. I think it generally surprised both of them and Lewis bobbled! Vettel shot in front of him and took fifth.

The race had only two laps left and Lewis Hamilton was about to lose out again. The McLaren did not have the pace it needed to catch up with Vettel in the Toro Rosso. His car was noticeably faster coming out of the corners than was Hamilton’s and the crowd was going nuts. I was standing and jumping. My hands were raised. The planet was about to turn red again! Brazil was about to emit a sound wave to destroy the entire country and they would party for years to come! Massa flashed by the grandstands on the front straight and now there was only one lap left. Meanwhile, Lewis was stuck behind Vettel, who was stuck behind Kubica. No one was going to give up any track position now. The cars rounded turn nine (Pinheirinho) and Massa flashed by the pits again claiming victory at Interlagos! The title of Formula One World Champion was only thirty or so seconds away from being his! But oh how “Lucky” Lewis is. I named him Lucky Lewis after Spa. I do believe it is a fitting name for him still as the train of cars rounded Mergulho and came barreling down into what is, for all intents and purposes, the final turn; Juncao. Here they came upon a Toyota floundering around on dry tires. It was Timo Glock. It was fourth position. It was the point Lewis needed.

They sped up past the tired Toyota, up the hill, past the grandstands and past the checkered flag. Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hamilton, Glock. He had done it. Or rather, Massa had done it, and Glock had lost it. No disrespect to Lewis Hamilton, because he is a very talented driver, but he does have some of the best racing luck in the world. But of course, you need all the luck you can get when it comes to taking home a win in a Grand Prix.

All that the crowd saw, when they came up the hill, was Lewis behind Vettel and they thought their hometown hero, the man who was born about 100 meters from the entrance to the track and who started racing on the go cart track, was world champion. Even Felipe’s family went nuts. They were hugging and crying in the pits, Hamilton’s family was jumping up and down in the pit lane. It was complete pandemonium. Everyone had thought Massa had won, but the flag fell that day for Hamilton.

Lewis now becomes the youngest Formula One World Champion in the history of the sport. The final standings were: Lewis Hamilton 98, Felipe Massa 97. Lewis lost by that one point last year, but he got it back this year. Ferrari comes away from the race the Constructors Champions and the team will take every time. I am a fan of Felipe Massa because he shows his emotions and that is something very rare in the political circus that is now Formula One. He thought he had won and he was crying as he pulled his car into the pits. It is a sight that not many people see. Not even Kimi Raikkonen – the supposed Ice Man – was caught with a tear in his eye when he came away with the victory one year ago. But then again, he is one of those stoic Finnish drivers and not a fiery Brazilian.

This season proved to be one of the best in recent memory. Everything came down to the final corner, of the final lap of the final race of the season. And once again, the champion was decided by one point. Now we have to wait for 140 some odd days to get more F1. When it comes around again I can only hope that Canada is back on the calendar and that the action is as frantic as it was in this last race. In short; it will be a long wait until the next season.

 

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