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

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.

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

  1. Oliver said on 3rd November 2008, 0:31

    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

  2. Oliver said on 3rd November 2008, 0:34

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. Thiago said on 3rd November 2008, 1:44

    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.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2008, 1:53

    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.

  7. “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!

  8. Filipe said on 3rd November 2008, 4:47

    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.

  9. 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.’—

  10. Ferrarilosers said on 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

  11. Chris Y said on 3rd November 2008, 8:04

    I keep watching this over and over again.. a most electrifying way to end a season.

    jim – Hamilton almost did finish outside the top 5. Although unlikely, the possibility was still there; anything could have happened, including an engine failure.

  12. schumi the greatest said on 3rd November 2008, 9:06

    at end of the day if it hadnt rained hamilton would have been 4th or 5th anyway, glock only got ahead because he risked staying on the dry tyres, an it was probably worth the risk because in the end he didnt lose any positions to where he was before the rain fell

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2008, 10:34

    Mani – I’m not going to use a phrase like “Lewis was given the world championship” unless it’s absolutely true. And in the context of the above article, which is pointing out the nonsense of these claims that Glock, for some reason, slowed down and let Hamilton through, it would just be misleading.

    Filipe – Thanks for that. Seeing as Glock finished ahead of Kovalainen thanks to his tyre gamble he definitely did the right thing.

  14. Filipe said on 3rd November 2008, 12:13

    Also, Keith by looking at Massa’s performance in the last few laps (he was the last one to pit due to Ferrari obviously don’t want to risk that Alonso stayed on dries), Lewis should also thank McLaren for good timming on his pit, I suspect that had he done his pit a lap earlier like many did (a strategy that only paid off to Kubica probably because he actually were in a wet set-up), I’m not sure he would closed the gap on Glock.

  15. Keith – if my lines meant so… I apologize. But I never said that Glock handed over his position to Hamilton willingly and that sounds really rubbish. I’ll be very much surprised to know, if that was the case. I just wanted to convey Lewis was lucky at that point, when everything went out of his hands Glock’s technical trouble played in his favor to hand him over the WDC.

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