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Brazilian GP: Ferrari – Interlagos 2008 is not going to happen again

By Berthold Bouman

The whole Formula One fraternity is looking forward to the title deciding race today, the 20th and last race of the season at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. A circuit where many titles were won, but also lost, most notably the race in 2008 was a race Formula One fans will never forget.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Interlagos 2008

Felipe Massa won the race on a wet Interlagos track in front of his home crowd after he had left from pole, his family in the Ferrari garage was already celebrating his title, but unfortunately for the Brazilian Lewis Hamilton overtook Timo Glock in the Toyota in the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the season. It doesn’t get any tighter than that, it was a heck of a season finale.

By doing so, Hamilton had scored one point more than Massa, and in the Ferrari garage everyone turned their head to the TV screens, as Hamilton was shown as winner of the 2008 World Championship. Massa famously was the 2008 World Champion for 20 seconds, his family looked in disbelief at the TV screens, and so did the Ferrari personnel.

Glock had run wide at the last corner on a wet and slippery circuit, and Hamilton was able to pass him and although he almost went off himself, he made it to the finish line in fifth place and became the 2008 World Champion. Massa, who was cruising to the pits after he had crossed the finish line, had already waved to the Brazilian crowd to thank them for their support, but he too saw on the big spectator screens positioned along the circuit something was going on, and at last he understood what had happened.

Michael Schumacher had left the Reds at the end of 2006, and his successor Kimi Raikkonen who won the championship in 2007, was already out of contention for the 2008 title, and Massa finally had been given the chance to win the championship for his beloved Ferrari team, but saw his title slip away in those 20 seconds.

There was not much Massa could do, he duly parked his car in the parc fermé in front of the sign that says “P1”, sat in his car with his helmet still on and cried his heart out while all TV cameras were pointed at him.

Massa after he lost the championship in 2008

But that was in 2008 and Ferrari has vowed this will never happen again. But of course for the fans and spectators 2008 had been a very interesting season to say the least, with the then 23-year old, Hamilton taking the championship in only his second year in Formula One. He has never won the championship again, in fact, after 2008 he has never finished in the top-three of the Drivers’ Championship again.

One thing is certain, Hamilton will not win the title this year, and therefore has set his sights on taking pole, and then the victory during his last race for McLaren. He already took pole yesterday and is in a great position to win the Brazilian Grand Prix.

As for Ferrari, Alonso has shown he can perform miracles with a car that is not fast enough, but he has to make up a 13-point deficit, and to add to his problems, he will start from eighth place on the grid, while his rival Vettel will start the race from fourth place. And there is rain expected, which could further complicate things for the Spaniard.

There have been reports Alonso was only eighth because he opted for a different car set-up compared to Vettel, which would make him the favourite in the rain, but there is no point in guessing, it’s even not sure it will rain during the race.

A few things are clear ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, if Alonso crashes or has a mechanical failure and is out of the race, Vettel will win the 2012 Drivers’ Championship, when that happens he doesn’t even have to finish the race himself. If Vettel crashes out of the race or his alternator, for instance, would fail again, Alonso still has to finish on the podium to take the 2012 crown. Another, but not entirely unlikely scenario, is that the two could collide and take each other out, then Vettel would also win the title.

Hamilton could in fact help Alonso, as the difference between first and second place is seven points, and Hamilton can take away seven points from Vettel by winning the race, this would certainly help Alonso. There are of course more permutations:

Vettel will also win the title if
• He finishes in the top four
• He finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso is second or lower
• He finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso is third or lower
• He finishes 10th or lower and Alonso fails to make it onto the podium

And Fernando Alonso will win the title if
• He wins the race and Vettel is fifth or lower
• He finishes second and Vettel is eighth or lower
• He finishes third and Vettel is 10th or lower

Vettel vs Alonso – Copyright: Deviant Art – Atatashechke


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