Legendary Races Week: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

As part of our special week in which we celebrate some of the greatest races in the history of all forms of motorsport, we take a trip back to the dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix of 2008, in which McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was up against Ferrari’s Felipe Massa for the title, with the two taking their fascinating, remarkable title fight going all the way to the last day of the season. Whoever would win, we were guaranteed a new champion, with Kimi Raikkonen out of the fight having taken the title from Hamilton in an equally amazing 2007 season at the same race.

The afternoon began with Hamilton leading the championship on 94 points – seven ahead of Massa. Almost as if the script had willed it, Massa had qualified on pole position, with Hamilton fourth. If Massa were to win the championship, he would need to win the race and hope that Hamilton finished sixth or lower, and he would win the title.

Prior to the race, the racing gods decided they wanted to gaze down upon a legendary race that would be talked about for generations to come, and thus, with the tension palpable already, the heavens opened.

Off the start, Massa held the lead from Toyota’s Jarno Trulli heading into turn one, and Lewis Hamilton maintained his grip on fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel and former McLaren team mate, at this point in the Renault, Fernando Alonso. Further towards the back, chaos ensued through the Senna S, as David Coulthard took a whack from not one, but both Williams cars, end his last ever Grand Prix ended in retirement.

Around lap 10 of the race, many drivers started to notice that the track was drying, and so several took the option to pit for dry tyres. Hamilton was left out perhaps a couple of laps too long on his intermediate set of boots, and he falls behind Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, who had all made earlier stops. Hamilton had however managed to negotiate his way past Jarno Trulli, who had lost ground due to a slow stop, and this left him in P6, with Massa still leading. If things were to stay like this, Massa would claim the title on races won, as he and Hamilton were level on points as things stood.

Eventually, Hamilton did manage to get past Fisichella – though it nearly ended in tears – and he made his way up into fifth, right where he needed to be to take the title.

Vettel, meanwhile, was pressuring Massa for the lead, but to no avail, and he would eventually pit and re-join behind Hamilton, promoting the Briton to fourth.

The pit stops would all level out, and Hamilton found himself in fifth having needed to switch back to the inters because the rain had started again. Timo Glock, who had suffered an awfully long stop due to a sticky fuel nozzle, had actually found himself fuelled to the end. As a result, Hamilton had fallen behind him to fifth, and Vettel was breathing down his neck.

Photo Credit: Ferrari Media

Then, unbelievably, Sebastian Vettel made his way past Hamilton with 3 laps to go, and for the second year running, it looked like Hamilton is going to lose out on the championship at the final hurdle!

The chequered flag fell at the end of the seventy-first and final lap of a simply extraordinary afternoon of racing, and Felipe Massa won the race, and surely with it, the title.

Until… Timo Glock’s slick tyres had completely given up the ghost on the last lap of the race in the wet conditions. He crawled, slithered round the track, and as he got to Juncao, who’s on his inside? None other than Lewis Hamilton, who has just snatched the title from the jaws of the prancing horse, much to the disbelief of the Ferrari camp and the delirium of the McLaren garage.

In the most spectacular of circumstances, Lewis Hamilton had finished fifth, and by the finest of margins, at the final corner of the final lap of the final race, he took the championship that had so cruelly evaded him the year previous.

Massa, tears in eyes, displays the most heart-wrenching solidarity as he stands atop the podium in front of his adoring and equally distraught home fans, knowing that he did all he could, but believing that his chance, Ferrari’s chance, Brazil’s chance, would come again.

Hamilton, his father Anthony, his brother Nic, and all of the McLaren team start the celebrations, although they are almost too shell-shocked themselves to fully ascertain what has just happened in one of the craziest days in Formula One’s already esteemed and rich history.

A race that has been watched, re-watched, recalled – sometimes painfully so – in utter disbelief at the sheer drama of what happened that day and the tantalising way it ended. A drama so deep and rich that even the great William Shakespeare would struggle to conjure, this was the epitome of everything F1 should be about – the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2008 truly was a legendary race, not just in Formula One, but in all of motorsport.

Brazilian Grand Prix Preview, Obrigado Felipe


In Mexico, Lewis Hamilton celebrated his fourth title in his Formula 1 career, a title which Lewis had to fight hard with the four time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, especially before the summer break. Hamilton showed a “winner” character and managed to overcome all his difficulties, both psychological and driving, but at the end Lewis became the first British driver who has ever won four world titles in Formula One.

Next stop, is Brazil, with only two races to go, until the season’s chequered flag, teams are travelling to Sao Paulo, for one of the best races in the Formula 1 calendar. Red Bull will try to win another race and be considering their current form, they have many chances to achieve that. The Bulls, are fast and compatible, both Verstappen and Ricciardo, will fight for a place on the podium and of course not in any place, but the highest one.


Ferrari is facing their own problems, Asia was a difficult chapter for the team, which cost them the chance to fight for the drivers’ and constructors’ championship, they didn’t have many chances for the second one, only if Raikkonen was able to move faster and improve his results.

In Brazil, the Scuderia has to fight for the best possible result, personally I don’t believe that Ferrari will win the race, Red Bull is faster and more reliable from the Scuderia Ferrari, at the moment, Verstappen is getting better and better, and I assume that he wants to close this season with two more victories.


Laps: 71

Circuit Length: 4.309 km

Total Length: 305.909 km

Lap Record: 1:11.473 (Juan Pablo Montoya – 2004)

Supersoft, soft and medium tyres are available for the drivers in Brazil, a circuit which the brake demand is low there are fifteen corners, 44 gear changes per lap and the average lap speed which the drivers will reach is about 220 km/h.

Three current drivers on the gird have won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen has won one time, whilst Sebastian Vettel has two victories in Interlagos. It is mentionable that only three drivers have exceeded the two victories in the Brazilian Grand Prix history. Alain Prost won six times, Michael Schumacher four times and Carlos Reutemann three.

“It’s very special for me and one of my favourite places and races on the calendar. Sao Paulo is a crazy city and there’s something I really like about it. The food, the people, it’s all really engaging and a highly unique experience.


Nico Hulkenberg – “The track itself has so much history especially when you cast your mind to all the stories and championships won there. You can feel the history and the emotions that belong to racing and I really like that. It’s a reason why I usually perform quite well there. The circuit is short and can be quite tricky to get right. It’s anti-clockwise, very bumpy and extremely tough on the neck! It’s all about confidence, especially the in-field middle sector.I have special memories around Interlagos! My only Formula 1 pole position to date came in my rookie season, which was awesome. I put a perfect lap together at the right time in changing conditions and poled it by over a second; that’s a real standout moment in my entire racing career. In 2012, I led for a large part of the race and was unlucky not to get a podium. I have a decent record there and I will be pushing to make sure I continue that.”

Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes will test new parts for the 2018 season in the two remaining races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

“The final two Grands Prix thus present the first two test opportunities ahead of the new season, trialling new and interesting concepts that the competitive landscape on track simply didn’t allow for earlier in the year. [We] will be running a series of experiments over the final two Fridays – with the option for race day, too, if the team feels that the risk connected with any idea is manageable and there is valuable learning for 2018 and beyond.”


Felipe Massa announced that he will retire, for the second time in the last two years, after the end of the 2017 season and that will make the Brazilian Grand Prix a very emotional race, full of Brazilians who will be cheering for Felipe.

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