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)”

  1. I don’t beleive for a second that Glock handed the place to Lewis. It’s every man for himself out there, especially in those sort of conditions.

    To suggest that the drivers are engaging in the sort of meddling we see from the Stewards is taking things a bit too far IMHO.

  2. I really want to know what the hell Kubica was up to and why he had to be so aggressive at that late stage in the race.

  3. TommyBellingham
    2nd November 2008, 22:53

    Glock just made the final few laps more interesting because if had pitted for wets non of this would have happened anyway

  4. I really feel for Massa. He handled it well and I think he is genuinely good enough to challenge in the coming years.

    For me Glock is a non-issue. Hamilton wouldn’t have been behind Vettel if Kubica wasn’t mucking about.

  5. I didn’t even think Glock let Hamilton pass, just as I never thought the stewards favoured the Ferraris by punishing Hamilton at Spa…

    Even knowing that we lost, that was the most emotional championship decision i’ve ever seen…

    Massa, despite his loss, only grew strong as a driver, that now must be respected by everyone: he won his second race under changeable weather, and this one was on merit. He dominates the anti-clockwise tracks (3 poles 3 wins in Turkey and 3 poles 2 wins 1 second-letting-the-team-mate-passe in Brazil) like nobody else does with any other circuit…

    He’s a fantastic driver, ultra-fast in qualyfing, that honours a long brazilian tradition in Formula 1!

  6. Kubica did the same what Lewis in Fuji. And he gained quite a lot( 4 laps to go- 15 th,1 lap- 11)

  7. You are looking too narrowly at the lap times. It’s true that Jarno and Timo ran the same approximate lap time, but they did it in much different methods.

    Jarno ran faster throughout the last lap when comparing lap times with the rest of the pack. As the sectors progressed, he gained ground.

    Timo did the opposite… running the worst sector three time of the race. Jarno, running on the same tyres, pulled much closer to Timo throughout the last lap of the Brazilian grand prix.

    I’ll admit that traffic makes this analysis imperfect. But the confluence of events at the end of this race is peculiar. Clearly, even Jarno was gaining on Timo at the end of this race.

  8. I’m brazilian and a Massa’s fan, this was a incredible race and the reason for Glock struggles was because he was with the dry tires. Congratulations to Hamilton and also to Massa for a very competitive season.

  9. To all those (Will) who think that Timo handed Lewis the title, what would be his motivation?

  10. Although no one really knows what goes on behind the closed-door conversations that team bosses have, I find it extremely hard to imagine that Toyota would happily give-up a fourth place finish for the sake of Lewis and McLaren. Not to mention the amount of grief Timo would be causing for himself if Toyota discovered that he’d decided to let Hamilton have his position.

    Well done Lewis, well done Felipe and well done FIA officials for a thrilling last race and championship.

  11. This video was taken down as I was watching it. You would think they could have at least let me see the end of it before repossessing it

  12. Bourdais can explain to the doubting crowd how this can happen. He lost, I think, 2 or 3 positions on the very last lap at Spa.

  13. Amazing end to the GP. Both contenders did what they had to do and the rain threw up a few surprises. The Glock incident had no relevance as previously mentioned.

    Kubica, well, I’ll have to watch it again but it seemed when watching live that his overtake on Hamilton compromised Hamilton enough to give Vettel an opportunity. He was way outside the points so he should have just stayed put.

    I’m delighted Hamilton won, but my final word goes to Felipe Massa – I thought his comments after Japan were poor, but that may have been down to the pressure of it all. Today he showed what a classy driver and person he is. Great season Felipe, and here’s hoping you’re up there challenging again next year.

  14. You said: ‘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’

    Funny that this is being said after Hamilton wins the championship. I wonder how the above sentence would have been changed if Massa had taken the title.

    Less ‘spectacular’ and more ‘Massa won because of the Spa stewards incident..’, maybe, possibly.

    Not so much praise of Massa, just that Hamilton lost because……blah, blah? Don’t you think?

    Funny that…

  15. Hamilton won because is a lucky. Why didn’t Hamilton pass Vettel? Massa was pole, ran very much. Massa didn’t win, because of Ferrari’s wrong in Singapore. Massa whould ought to win.

  16. stevepCambsUK, ade – I can’t see it?

    Marko – I was wondering about that (it was supposed to be either Hamilton or Massa’s family depending on how the end of the race was going). Perhaps they canned the idea because it was so close? From the video it looks like their families were in the garages.

    Shashi – Because he’s a racing driver. Why should he care about Hamilton’s championship chances? For all he knew there might have been other drivers ahead on dry tyres that he might have been able to pass.

    GST – First you put words in my mouth, then you judge me based upon these things I haven’t said? It was a spectacular race. And if Massa and Hamilton’s positions had been reversed it still would have been a spectacular race – probably even more so because Massa would have won the title at home.

  17. “Congratulations Lewis for becoming the youngest champ ever, but you’re bloody lucky to have WDC in your hands!”

    It was a perfect race for team Ferrari, but little too late to wrap both the titles. But Lewis was not up to the mark in the title showdown, may be the car or the pressure who knows? It was not wise to let Vettel go past him when it means dropping WDC without a fight.

    Lewis must thank Glock for having a problem just before the last corner. Keith, I’ve a slight disagreement with the sentence, “But Hamilton took fifth back from Timo Glock – and with it, the world championship.” though it is right, I prefer to read it as “But Glock gave P5 back to Lewis with the handicapped Toyota – and with it Lewis was given the world championship”. I’m not a Lewis’ fan, and neither Massa’s… but I just feel Lewis was not matching Massa in the last race.

    Anyways, he deserves the title for few of his spectacular drives, though. Both Lewis and Massa had given some impeccable performances across the season, and had done few dumb mistakes as well. So, both are equally eligible for the title, at last I’m happy with the result. Another good season strictly in terms of on-track shows!

  18. A curious stat: A brazilian journalist put together all the times from laps 66-71:
    Massa – 511s140
    Vettel – 520s013
    Hamilton – 521s445
    Glock – 507s165

    So Toyota did make the right call. Glock was actually the fastest car during all those final laps.

  19. so, as it turned out, the singapore gp was indeed the championship decider.

    massa fans hoping that hamilton would finish outside the top 5 were dreaming an impossible dream. it’s akin to asking the small frys of the premier league to challenge the big 4.

    —sept 25: Domenicali insists the Singapore race will not be a championship decider by any means.

    ‘The Singapore race is very important because we only have four races to go,’ he said. ‘But I’m expecting that this year, the championship will finish once again at the last race (in Brazil), as it has in the last couple of years.’—

  20. Ferrarilosers
    3rd November 2008, 6:42

    HAHA that was great watching the Ferrari boyz celebrate like mad only to…. oh well, time to call Max Mosley at Ferrari International Assistance to slap a 25 sec penalty on Hamilton

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