Monday, November 3, 2008

Brazil race analysis - Hamilton holds his nerve for glory

Lewis Hamilton started the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend as title favourite and duly ended it as champion. Ahead of their showdown, Felipe Massa said the pressure would be on his rival at Interlagos - and that’s exactly how it panned out. As the Brazilian romped to the home win he needed, Hamilton and McLaren understandably took a more cautious approach. It so nearly cost them everything, but ultimately gave us the most thrilling season finale in years...FerrariFelipe Massa, P1Kimi Raikkonen, P3Massa did everything so brilliantly that no wonder his supporters felt he deserved to be world champion. And for fleeting moments it seemed that he was, but then after he had crossed the finish line Hamilton passed Glock for the fifth place he needed, and the Brazilian lost by a point. Raikkonen said his Ferrari got much better towards the end, but was told not to bother challenging Alonso’s second place since third would be sufficient to secure the constructors’ title for the Scuderia as the consolation prize.RenaultFernando Alonso, P2Nelson Piquet, Retired lap 1, accidentPiquet might have crashed on the first lap, but Alonso drove another great race to take a strong second place, which bodes well for the team’s 2009 prospects.Toro RossoSebastian Vettel, P4Sebastien Bourdais, P14Running more downforce than most, Toro Rosso enjoyed another great run from Vettel, who was in the hunt for a good helping of points right from the start. Running to a different fuel strategy he pushed Massa hard at times, Vettel thoroughly deserved his fourth place. Bourdais should have had a shot at eighth, too, but was rudely bundled off the track by Trulli as they chased Fisichella early on.McLarenLewis Hamilton, P5Heikki Kovalainen, P7McLaren did not get the best from the MP4-23 as they appeared to aim just for the fifth place that Hamilton needed. Had it remained dry to the end, he would have achieved it without problem; as it was it came down to fate intervening as Glock lost so much ground on his dry tyres on that critical final lap. Nevertheless, a championship is won over a season not one race, and Hamilton and McLaren were deserving winners.ToyotaTimo Glock, P6Jarno Trulli, P8Trulli could not sustain his qualifying promise once he switched from wet to dry tyres early on, and much of that was because he got stuck behind Fisichella and lost a lot of ground. A half spin also dropped him behind Glock, and after a brush with Bourdais, he had to be content with eighth. Glock drove well, but the decision to stay out on dry tyres ultimately cost him the fourth place that it appeared to have brought him. He finished sixth, cementing Toyota’s fifth place overall.Red BullMark Webber, P9David Coulthard, Retired lap 1, accident damageThere was bad news and bad news for Red Bull. Coulthard got punted out of his final Grand Prix by Rosberg on the opening lap; and Webber said the RB4 did not have the pace to do better than ninth.BMW SauberNick Heidfeld, P10Robert Kubica, P11This was BMW Sauber’s worst race of the year, and marked not just the first time they failed to score points this season, but in 34 races - since Brazil 2006. Heidfeld got trapped in traffic early on and couldn’t make any progress thereafter, while Kubica only came alive after switching to wets in the rain at the end. But third place overall was still a solid indication of the team’s success in 2008.WilliamsNico Rosberg, P12Kazuki Nakajima, P17It was yet another unhappy afternoon for Williams, with Rosberg nudging Coulthard off on the opening lap, and triggering the incident in which the Scot inadvertently hit Nakajima’s car, spinning it. The Japanese driver sustained bodywork and suspension damage that compromised his race. 12th and 17th overall said it all.HondaJenson Button, P13Rubens Barrichello, P15Honda had another lacklustre race which resulted in 13th place for Button and 15th for Barrichello. Their gamble on extreme-wet tyres at the end backfired when the Brazilian overheated his and needed standard wet replacements after two laps, and the fact that the Englishman’s RA108 caught fire in the pit lane afterwards somehow summarised a terrible season.Force IndiaAdrian Sutil, P16Giancarlo Fisichella, P18Bringing Fisichella in on the second lap for dry tyres enabled the veteran Italian to star for a while as he ran as high as fifth, but a clutch problem later led to two stalls during pit stops and he slumped to finish 18th and last. Sutil had an uneventful run to 16th.

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