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

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. What it really comes down to is Timo Glock took the gamble and it didn’t work for him. If it had rained just a little less who knows we might of seen Massa win the championship.

    Also Massa put in the perfect performance and achieved his goal of winning where whether he won it or not was up to Hamilton.

    Funny how the strategy for Hamilton which was to take it easy and stay out of trouble was the one strategy which almost cost him the championship.

  2. Glock’s tyres had nothing left to give. He nearly lost it completely as Hamilton went past and he was also passed by another backmarker.

  3. Completely correct Keith. Any suggestion that Glock intentionally slowed down to let Hamilton catch him is lunacy in my opinion.

    It should be noted though that Glock’s gamble to stay out on dry tyres did pay off though; he was 7th before the shower and managed to finish ahead of Kovalinen in 6th (and very nearly 4th).

  4. My GOD that was rediculous! Is there any way to save this video for eternity, because I was on pins and needles watching the last 5 laps. HOLY CRAP I want to watch this over and over. Awesome job by both men today. Major congrats to Felipe, on the win and on his complete grace with which both won and lost today. Congrats!

  5. Next time let Hamilton race his race – the conservative strategy turns out was the most risky!!

  6. I echo Jupiter’s comments.

    If the nail has a head Keith always manages to hit it.

    However the Lewis-haters with little or no ability to analyse will still impotently spew their froth on to whatever forum will put up with them

  7. Anyone notice what flew of lewis’s car after he crossed the finish line? i recorded the race and played it back and paused it. looked like a seat someone in the crowd had thrown, i may be wrong. anyone got ant other ideas what it was?

  8. Terry Fabulous
    2nd November 2008, 21:23

    Well that was easily on the best F1 moments ever.

    Thanks for your terrific website Keith. You have lifted the bar to another level this year with the live chats, post race technical analysis and indeed the general newsbreaking.

    Number 1 Formula 1 website by some margin.

  9. I am really sad that Massa didnt won the title, but you are right: it was a fantastic finale.

  10. Terry Fabulous
    2nd November 2008, 21:30

    On a serious side, I have this awful feeling that this could be Felipe’s best shot at a title. I can’t belief that Kimi will be as bad as he was this year in 09 and Alonso is driving like a man possessed.

    And of course next year is the big year for Honda…. No I can’t keep a straight face either.

  11. It can be discounted that Glock deliberately let Hamilton through for this simple reason – if Glock/Toyota were minded to let Hamilton win the championship, they could have just brought him in for wets when everybody else did, that way the positions would have stayed the same (Hamilton 4th, then 5th when Vettel overtook him). Why bother going with a risky strategy (Glock staying on dry tyres) just to cede the place(s) on the final lap…

  12. Who waved flag at finish??? I heard on live chat that if Lewis is going to win WDC Antony Hamilton will, and if it is Massa than someone from his family will. Who did waved that flag then?

  13. speaking as a alonso fan and therefore not a big lewis fan although not a hater, I DONT think Glock slowed on purpose. But i felt physically sick wacthing, It was amazing and i really felt for Massa. Finally i hope red bull give Vettel a good car next year i honestly believe he is incredibly to take on hamilton the supposably the “wet specialist” in the wet in a toro roso was impressive. So well done Hamilton you supplied the most exciting finish to a race and championship ever.

  14. What a race!

    That was fantastic, congrats to Lewis for the championship but what a race by Felipe. The thought that Lewis would actually hand the title on a plate seemed hard to believe until Vettel overtook him, it got me so excited! The short lived euphoria disappeared along with Glock’s pace. I imagine the look in my face must have been just like Felipe’s dad, we were all already celebrating! :)

    Great ending to the season, that’s what we all watch F1 for. Those who have insinuated that Glock did what he did on purpose obviously know nothing about racing. His gamble did pay off, as he finished 6th instead of 7th. He just couldn’t help Felipe…

  15. @ stevepCambsUK Yeah, I was sure I saw a seat cushion bouncing off Hamilton’s car; my father in law saw it too. I thought the crowd were a bit of a shambles this weekend, really.

  16. By the way, we should look forward to more Massa/Hamilton championship battles in the near future. I completely disagree with those who have suggested this could be Felipe’s best/last shot at a title. I reckon this fight was only the first instalment!

  17. TommyBellingham
    2nd November 2008, 22:08

    I find it funny all the Ferrari fans moaning about Glock. What saw losers

  18. I’m a ferrari fan but it’s clear Glock played fair: Trulli did exactly the same time with the same tires.

    Nice end to a not-so-dark-days of the sport championship (I’m sorry but I disagree in the way you’re looking at some of the events of this year… maybe except the max mosley’s one). I’m glad Lewis won just because I won’t see thousands of fans whinning about Spa as spanish t5 tv was whinning today about last year’s Lewis “bad practices”.

    Congratulations Hamilton fans! ;)
    (and I keep saying that hadn’t Schumi retired, he’d have 9 WC now)

    see you next year! :)

  19. …if Glock/Toyota were minded to let Hamilton win the championship, they could have just brought him in for wets when everybody else did…

    Luke: you took that words out of my mouth. This reveals Glock’s real intention was to gain some places.

    …he was 7th before the shower and managed to finish ahead of Kovalinen in 6th (and very nearly 4th)…

    And Jupiter is right, in the end he just managed to get a few more points.

  20. looking at the times for the final lap – trulli and glock were the only two drivers to stay out on dry tyres (correct?) and they were also both affected in the final lap to pretty much the same extent.

  21. I don’t beleive for a second that Glock handed the place to Lewis. It’s every man for himself out there, especially in those sort of conditions.

    To suggest that the drivers are engaging in the sort of meddling we see from the Stewards is taking things a bit too far IMHO.

  22. I really want to know what the hell Kubica was up to and why he had to be so aggressive at that late stage in the race.

  23. TommyBellingham
    2nd November 2008, 22:53

    Glock just made the final few laps more interesting because if had pitted for wets non of this would have happened anyway

  24. I really feel for Massa. He handled it well and I think he is genuinely good enough to challenge in the coming years.

    For me Glock is a non-issue. Hamilton wouldn’t have been behind Vettel if Kubica wasn’t mucking about.

  25. I didn’t even think Glock let Hamilton pass, just as I never thought the stewards favoured the Ferraris by punishing Hamilton at Spa…

    Even knowing that we lost, that was the most emotional championship decision i’ve ever seen…

    Massa, despite his loss, only grew strong as a driver, that now must be respected by everyone: he won his second race under changeable weather, and this one was on merit. He dominates the anti-clockwise tracks (3 poles 3 wins in Turkey and 3 poles 2 wins 1 second-letting-the-team-mate-passe in Brazil) like nobody else does with any other circuit…

    He’s a fantastic driver, ultra-fast in qualyfing, that honours a long brazilian tradition in Formula 1!

  26. Kubica did the same what Lewis in Fuji. And he gained quite a lot( 4 laps to go- 15 th,1 lap- 11)

  27. You are looking too narrowly at the lap times. It’s true that Jarno and Timo ran the same approximate lap time, but they did it in much different methods.

    Jarno ran faster throughout the last lap when comparing lap times with the rest of the pack. As the sectors progressed, he gained ground.

    Timo did the opposite… running the worst sector three time of the race. Jarno, running on the same tyres, pulled much closer to Timo throughout the last lap of the Brazilian grand prix.

    I’ll admit that traffic makes this analysis imperfect. But the confluence of events at the end of this race is peculiar. Clearly, even Jarno was gaining on Timo at the end of this race.

  28. I’m brazilian and a Massa’s fan, this was a incredible race and the reason for Glock struggles was because he was with the dry tires. Congratulations to Hamilton and also to Massa for a very competitive season.

  29. To all those (Will) who think that Timo handed Lewis the title, what would be his motivation?

  30. Although no one really knows what goes on behind the closed-door conversations that team bosses have, I find it extremely hard to imagine that Toyota would happily give-up a fourth place finish for the sake of Lewis and McLaren. Not to mention the amount of grief Timo would be causing for himself if Toyota discovered that he’d decided to let Hamilton have his position.

    Well done Lewis, well done Felipe and well done FIA officials for a thrilling last race and championship.

  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

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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…

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. “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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.’—

  40. 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

  41. 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.

  42. schumi the greatest
    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

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. Completely correct Keith. I’m Italian and I’m really disgusted of the fact that here in my country someone is trying to suggest rubbish theories like the fact that Glock did it on purpose.

  47. Glock def handed and lifted off on that last turn..he didn’t even stay on the dry line!!! he was fine for the previous 2 laps and even the last lap into turns 1,2,3 where it was the wettest and where all other cars had 0 grip he had no problems with grip cuz if he did vettel would have been able to go around him and hamilton. He gave that Champoinship to Hamilton.would be supprised if he checking just grew by a couple of $’s

  48. And glock had nothing to lose.he was excellent all season so he knew he had a spot on that team for next season.

  49. Can anyone explain the difference in lap times from lap 70 to 71?? Both trulli and glock lose about 11 seconds from lap 69 to 70, but then while trulli loses the same amount of 11 seconds the following lap, glock goes on to lose 16 SECONDS????

  50. MASSA IS A SPORTING LOSER MY ASS! He was implying all week before the race how he would be a worthy champion – that this title was clean if he had clinched it.

    Wat the hell is he thinking? Did he forget how his points tally got a few automatic top-ups from FIA and Mosley thru zero efforts of his own? Crying at the end of the race was his acknowledgment that even with FIA’s help, he couldnt win the title.

    That said, i hope the stewards get their retribution for being corrupt Ferrari boot-lickers. And Mosley for his well, Hitler impersonations on tape.

  51. Marko, two things:
    1) Glock got more traffic.
    2) Glock tyres were probably in worse conditions.

  52. Also, you should have in mind that Trulli being way below Glock had to drive a larger distance under worse weather than Glock. The rain increase when Massa was closing S3 of Lap 70, so Trulli certainly did a larger part of lap 70 having a hard time than Glock.

  53. Try to think…
    Hamilton this won is just a lucky champion, not a driver champion, he even can’t pass thru Vettel, so how he can be the driver champion..!!
    What Glock did to release P4, there sure a reason behind, and he is the only one who know it.

  54. Also, why was Glock not on the dry racing line??? Surely being on the wrong tyres he should’ve stayed on the dry line?

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