Although the race had started in the rain, the skies quickly cleared up, leaving the drivers with a rapidly drying track and good visibility. But as the race wound to a close, reports of rain came in for the last few laps and the drivers began pitting for the third round to switch to rain tires. Of the cars at the head of the pack, only Toyota's returning rookie Timo Glock gambled to stay on dry tires for the closing laps in the hope of holding on to his solid fourth place. Felipe Massa held his commanding lead for nearly the entire race distance (falling back only temporarily in the pits), all but locking up victory at his home race in front of thousands of cheering fellow Brazilians. Massa was doing all he could to win the race and take the title. Now it would depend on the position in which Hamilton finished.


The young McLaren driver came to Brazil in the same place he had been last season: heading into the final round seven points ahead in the championship. But would he repeat his mistakes and give the title to Ferrari? After starting the race in fourth, he dropped down the field to seventh, only to take fifth again and looking to seize the crown until rookie sensation Sebastien Vettel in the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso managed to squeeze by him in the penultimate lap. If these positions would hold for less than just two laps, Vettel would be credited for giving Massa the title.


But then the unexpected happened. After Massa had crossed the finish line, Glock, Vettel and Hamilton came through the very last corner before the straight to the finish line. Glock, still on dry tires, apparently couldn't hold on in the corner and both Vettel and Hamilton slipped by. Vettel moved up to fourth place, but most crucially, Hamilton was elevated to fifth. With a fifth place finish, Hamilton won an all-important extra point over Massa – just enough to claim the drivers' title in one of the closest season-ending grands prix in motor racing history.


It was so close, in fact, that the cameras missed it. Massa's family was already celebrating in the Ferrari garage. And the multitude of viewers around the world sat on the edge of their seats as even the broadcasters missed it. But Lewis Hamilton was crowned the youngest ever champion in Formula One history, edging out former team-mate Fernando Alonso, who looked down from the podium alongside a still jubilant Felipe Massa who was still happy to have won his home grand prix and done everything he could to take the title. Next to him were last year's champion Kimi Raikkonen and their team principal Stefano Domenicali, who stepped up to accept the constructors' trophy for the race in symbolic lieu of the constructors' championship that the team secured with their double-podium finish. Maybe not the drivers' title they hoped for, but as Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo pointed out to us last week in Sicily, enough to propel the Scuderia into the history books for securing eight titles in the past ten years. With the titles split between Ferrari and McLaren, the heat is already on for next season.

  • Brazilian Formula One driver Felipe Massa wins Brazil Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on November 2, 2008. Lewis Hamilton was crowned Formula One champion after finishing fifth in the Brazil Grand Prix AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari leads from Jarno Trulli of Italy and Toyota, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes at the start of the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Felipe Massa (C) of Brazil and Ferrari leads from Kimi Raikkonen (L) of Finland and Ferrari, Jarno Trulli (2nd right) of Italy and Toyota and Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes at the start of the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari drives during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Formula One World Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Formula One World Championship during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes comes in for a pitstop during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives during the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Felipe Massa (C) of Brazil and Ferrari looks disappointed on the podium alongside second placed Fernando Alonso (L) of Spain and Renault and third placed Kimi Raikkonen (R) of Finland and Ferrari after winning the race but losing the World Championship at the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari looks disappointed on the podium after winning the race but losing the World Championship at the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: Championship rivals Felipe Massa (L) of Brazil and Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes shake hands at the drivers end of year photo session prior to the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 02: New Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes (L) celebrates with his half-brother Nick Hamilton (R) following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Interlagos Circuit on November 2, 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

2009 Brazilian Grand Prix

1 Felipe Massa Ferrari
2 Fernando Alonso Renault
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
4 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
6 Timo Glock Toyota
7 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
8 Jarno Trulli Toyota
9 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
10 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
11 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
12 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
13 Jenson Button Honda
14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari
15 Rubens Barrichello Honda
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari
17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
18 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari

Fastest lap: Massa, 1:13.376

Not classified/retirements:
Nelsinho Piquet Renault
David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault

World Championship standings
after 18 rounds

Drivers:
1. Hamilton 98
2. Massa 97
3. Raikkonen 75
4. Kubica 75
5. Alonso 61
6. Heidfeld 60
7. Kovalainen 53
8. Vettel 35
9. Trulli 31
10. Glock 25
11. Webber 21
12. Piquet 19
13. Rosberg 17
14. Barrichello 11
15. Nakajima 9
16. Coulthard 8
17. Bourdais 4
18. Button 3

Constructors:
1. Ferrari 172
2. McLaren-Mercedes 151
3. BMW Sauber 135
4. Renault 80
5. Toyota 56
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 39
7. Red Bull-Renault 29
8. Williams-Toyota 26
9. Honda 14


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