Monday, 3 November 2008

The Best Race for Years

Well, fans, the cute one won!!!!

I love Interlagos race track. We used to have a computer formula one game on an Amstrad (actually I think it’s still in the loft somewhere). Interlagos was by far my favourite track on it and the one on which I had the best record.

This year the circuit saw the last race of the Championship and as last year Hamilton went into it 7 points ahead of his nearest rival. So much hinged on the last race of the season – not just the driver’s championship but also, in theory, the manufacturer’s (though Ferrari would have had to do horribly to lose that) - that most people forgot it was Coulthard’s last race. He has been the most successful driver never to win the Championship.

David Marshall Coulthard, often called DC, (born 27 March 1971 in Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire) is a British Formula One racing driver from Scotland. By virtue of a long career he has amassed a noticeable points haul, and lies fifth on the all-time scorers list, being the top British scorer. He has won thirteen grands prix, including two at Monaco. This was his last race as a Red Bull driver. He came into Williams team after Ayrton Senna was killed and spent three seasons there. Then he moved to McLaren where he spent nine years before his last four seasons for Red Bull. Few drivers have been in for so long and with such loyalty to their teams. As he commented on the grid he may never have won a World Championship but he hoped he'd made a lot of friends. There's no doubt he did that.

I liked Trulli's comment that he wasn't aiming to help anyone in particular in the championship fight despite being at the head of the field after qualifying second to Massa. - "I have no enemies only rivals", he said. D C claimed it should be a 'formality' for Lewis Hamilton to win the world drivers’ championship, but hailed rival Felipe Massa as the most improved driver on the circuit. The Scot said: “With a seven-point lead Lewis is the most likely to achieve the championship, I think that is quite clear. He has led the championship for the majority of the season and it should be a formality. But for me, Felipe is the most improved driver of the season. A consolation might be if Felipe wins the Grand Prix, and satisfies the Brazilian crowd, and Lewis comes in with the points-scoring position he needs to take the title."

Most improved? Red Bull's David Coulthard may have thought differently when he clashed with Ferrari's Felipe Massa at the Australian Grand Prix back in March.

Rain at exactly 3pm added to the tension at the start. A delayed start resulted. Within a minute or so the rain stopped and the sun came out so a panic of tyre changes resulted. Do you put wets on and tiptoe for the first lap or put on wets and hope it rains again...

Poor DC only made it to the first corner before being hit by Rosberg and collecting Nakajima – an incident which also took out Nelsinho Piquet. The Safety Car was deployed. Hamilton was in fourth with Vettel and Alonso behind him.

Changing tyres put Hamilton back into seventh place – another McLaren misjudgement - even behind Fisichella’s Force India. Massa still leading, was now in a World Championship winning position. A sublime overtaking move on Fisichella put Hamilton into fifth, a position in which he would win irrespective of what Massa might do. Only nineteen laps gone and teeth clenching, adrenalin rising excitement already with 53 laps still to go.

Meanwhile Vettel was pushing up Massa’s rear wing and Alonso was only a second or so behind. Then came Raikkonen and Hamilton. But Vettel had to do a comparatively early pit stop for more fuel and allowed Hamilton up into fourth. The next round of pit stops saw Hamilton’s fuel hose stick for a second or two but it didn’t do too much damage. When they were over Massa led Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. Vettel came in again with nineteen laps to go and put Hamilton up to fourth but with Vettel right behind him. It seemed as though the front four could run until the end of the race but if not – oops... Then rain was forecast for the last few minutes – double oops...
Twelve laps to go and if it starts to rain one might as well throw a dice as to who wins the Championship. Eight laps to go and rain appears in the Paddock... Eight laps to go and Hamilton still potential Champion. Six to go and Heidfeld came in for wet tyres to see if he could make a load of places if the rain came on properly. It’s raining on and off with five to go – the Championship hangs on the weather. Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel came in but not Massa. Then Massa a lap later. Four to go and it could be chaos. It’s raining but not heavily enough. Meanwhile Timo Glock did not come in and change tyres.

Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Glock, Hamilton and Vettel but if Vettel could overtake Hamilton the Championship would go. Pressure, pressure, truly dramatic.

Two laps to go and Vettel took the place and the Championship was Massa’s but Glock was still on dry tyres. It was all about Glock.

Possibly the most important single overtaking move in recent F1 history.

Vettel and Hamilton took Glock on the last corner! The first three cars were already over the winning line and Massa thought he'd won the Championship. It was possibly the most important single overtaking move in recent F1 history. The Championship was Hamilton’s by a hair’s breadth. The youngest ever World Champion after one of the most exciting grand prix ever. He joins Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, and Damon Hill as a British Champion. His next target must be to win four Championships, one more than Jackie Stewart. Meanwhile David Coulthard joins Stirling Moss as one of the best non-winners of all time.

A very emotional and sporting Massa said “I know how to win and I know how to lose.” A very worthy second place in the Championship to him. Hamilton described it as “One of the toughest races of my life, if not THE.”

It has been a fantastic season, the last of fifteen on ITV, with seven different winners - Raikkonen (Ferrari), Massa (Ferrari), Hamilton (McLaren), Alonso (Renault), and first wins for Heiki Kovaleinen (McLaren). Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), and Sebastian Vetel (Torro Rosso).

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