Championship changes hands twice in the final three laps (Video)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The 2008 F1 title was decided at the last corner on the last lap of the last race. Felipe Massa was poised to win the championship after Sebastian Vettel demoted Lewis Hamilton to sixth place. But Hamilton took fifth back from Timo Glock – and with it, the world championship.

Inevitably, some have suggested Glock deliberately ceded the place – but it’s hard to take that point of view seriously.

There can be little doubt that the cause of Glock’s loss of pace was that he has stayed on dry tyres as the rain was falling.

According to McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh they were watching Glock’s progress in the final stages and expected him to struggle as the rain got heavier.

When Hamilton lost fifth place to Sebastian Vettel, Whitmarsh says McLaren told him to concentrate on keeping the car on the track as there was a good chance he would catch Glock. He did – but only just.

Ron Dennis said:

Who would have thought Glock would stay out on dry tyres? We were just looking at it in the last two laps thinking; ‘Do we fight for the position with Vettel, or do we let him go, and how’s it going to happen?’

Boy I tell you that was one hell of a call and we’re pleased for the team, but delighted for Lewis.

Some are already questioning whether Glock deliberately slowed down. But as the video shows he was obviously struggling for grip – never mind the absence of any motive and the impossibility of pre-planning such a move. Both he and team mate Jarno Trulli stayed on dry weather tyres in the closing laps and their lap times tell the story:

Timo Glock
69 1:18.688
70 1:28.041
71 1:44.731

Jarno Trulli
69 1:22.428
70 1:33.539
71 1:44.800

I can understand the disappointment of Massa’s fans. But clinging to the idea that Glock somehow sabotaged his title hopes flies in the face of facts and demeans Glock’s integrity as a racer.

This was the most stunning and exciting conclusion to a world championship, and we should be glad that, after some darks days for the sport this year, the season has ended in such spectacular fashion.

54 comments on “Championship changes hands twice in the final three laps (Video)”

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  1. What it really comes down to is Timo Glock took the gamble and it didn’t work for him. If it had rained just a little less who knows we might of seen Massa win the championship.

    Also Massa put in the perfect performance and achieved his goal of winning where whether he won it or not was up to Hamilton.

    Funny how the strategy for Hamilton which was to take it easy and stay out of trouble was the one strategy which almost cost him the championship.

  2. David Watkins
    2nd November 2008, 20:49

    Glock’s tyres had nothing left to give. He nearly lost it completely as Hamilton went past and he was also passed by another backmarker.

  3. Completely correct Keith. Any suggestion that Glock intentionally slowed down to let Hamilton catch him is lunacy in my opinion.

    It should be noted though that Glock’s gamble to stay out on dry tyres did pay off though; he was 7th before the shower and managed to finish ahead of Kovalinen in 6th (and very nearly 4th).

  4. My GOD that was rediculous! Is there any way to save this video for eternity, because I was on pins and needles watching the last 5 laps. HOLY CRAP I want to watch this over and over. Awesome job by both men today. Major congrats to Felipe, on the win and on his complete grace with which both won and lost today. Congrats!

  5. Next time let Hamilton race his race – the conservative strategy turns out was the most risky!!

  6. David Watkins
    2nd November 2008, 21:14

    I echo Jupiter’s comments.

    If the nail has a head Keith always manages to hit it.

    However the Lewis-haters with little or no ability to analyse will still impotently spew their froth on to whatever forum will put up with them

  7. stevepCambsUK
    2nd November 2008, 21:14

    Anyone notice what flew of lewis’s car after he crossed the finish line? i recorded the race and played it back and paused it. looked like a seat someone in the crowd had thrown, i may be wrong. anyone got ant other ideas what it was?

  8. Terry Fabulous
    2nd November 2008, 21:23

    Well that was easily on the best F1 moments ever.

    Thanks for your terrific website Keith. You have lifted the bar to another level this year with the live chats, post race technical analysis and indeed the general newsbreaking.

    Number 1 Formula 1 website by some margin.

  9. I am really sad that Massa didnt won the title, but you are right: it was a fantastic finale.

  10. Terry Fabulous
    2nd November 2008, 21:30

    On a serious side, I have this awful feeling that this could be Felipe’s best shot at a title. I can’t belief that Kimi will be as bad as he was this year in 09 and Alonso is driving like a man possessed.

    And of course next year is the big year for Honda…. No I can’t keep a straight face either.

  11. It can be discounted that Glock deliberately let Hamilton through for this simple reason – if Glock/Toyota were minded to let Hamilton win the championship, they could have just brought him in for wets when everybody else did, that way the positions would have stayed the same (Hamilton 4th, then 5th when Vettel overtook him). Why bother going with a risky strategy (Glock staying on dry tyres) just to cede the place(s) on the final lap…

  12. Who waved flag at finish??? I heard on live chat that if Lewis is going to win WDC Antony Hamilton will, and if it is Massa than someone from his family will. Who did waved that flag then?

  13. speaking as a alonso fan and therefore not a big lewis fan although not a hater, I DONT think Glock slowed on purpose. But i felt physically sick wacthing, It was amazing and i really felt for Massa. Finally i hope red bull give Vettel a good car next year i honestly believe he is incredibly to take on hamilton the supposably the “wet specialist” in the wet in a toro roso was impressive. So well done Hamilton you supplied the most exciting finish to a race and championship ever.

  14. What a race!

    That was fantastic, congrats to Lewis for the championship but what a race by Felipe. The thought that Lewis would actually hand the title on a plate seemed hard to believe until Vettel overtook him, it got me so excited! The short lived euphoria disappeared along with Glock’s pace. I imagine the look in my face must have been just like Felipe’s dad, we were all already celebrating! :)

    Great ending to the season, that’s what we all watch F1 for. Those who have insinuated that Glock did what he did on purpose obviously know nothing about racing. His gamble did pay off, as he finished 6th instead of 7th. He just couldn’t help Felipe…

  15. @ stevepCambsUK Yeah, I was sure I saw a seat cushion bouncing off Hamilton’s car; my father in law saw it too. I thought the crowd were a bit of a shambles this weekend, really.

  16. By the way, we should look forward to more Massa/Hamilton championship battles in the near future. I completely disagree with those who have suggested this could be Felipe’s best/last shot at a title. I reckon this fight was only the first instalment!

  17. TommyBellingham
    2nd November 2008, 22:08

    I find it funny all the Ferrari fans moaning about Glock. What saw losers

  18. I’m a ferrari fan but it’s clear Glock played fair: Trulli did exactly the same time with the same tires.

    Nice end to a not-so-dark-days of the sport championship (I’m sorry but I disagree in the way you’re looking at some of the events of this year… maybe except the max mosley’s one). I’m glad Lewis won just because I won’t see thousands of fans whinning about Spa as spanish t5 tv was whinning today about last year’s Lewis “bad practices”.

    Congratulations Hamilton fans! ;)
    (and I keep saying that hadn’t Schumi retired, he’d have 9 WC now)

    see you next year! :)

  19. …if Glock/Toyota were minded to let Hamilton win the championship, they could have just brought him in for wets when everybody else did…

    Luke: you took that words out of my mouth. This reveals Glock’s real intention was to gain some places.

    …he was 7th before the shower and managed to finish ahead of Kovalinen in 6th (and very nearly 4th)…

    And Jupiter is right, in the end he just managed to get a few more points.

  20. looking at the times for the final lap – trulli and glock were the only two drivers to stay out on dry tyres (correct?) and they were also both affected in the final lap to pretty much the same extent.

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