McLarens Lewis Hamilton was almost lost for words after he took the 2008 drivers title by finishing fifth in Sundays Brazilian Grand Prix. He secured the place on the final corner of the final lap of the final race of the season to finish the year with 98 points, one more than Ferraris Felipe Massa, who won the Interlagos race.
"The most dramatic race of my whole life, said Hamilton. Its pretty much impossible to put this into words: Im still speechless. Its been such a long journey, but Ive always had the support of my family, the team, our partners and the fans. We did a fantastic job throughout the whole year and, with all the sacrifices we made, Im so thrilled to be able to win this for everyone.
Prior to that dramatic final lap, Hamilton had looked set for heartbreak once more in Brazil, scene of his failed 2007 title bid. Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel had forced his way past in the closing stages, leaving the Briton sixth when he needed to finish fifth. But Toyotas decision not to pit for wet tyres when a late shower arrived meant that fourth-placed Timo Glock rapidly became easy prey for both Hamilton and Vettel.
"Before it started to rain I was quite comfortable, and I was just focused on having a clean race, added Hamilton. Then it started to drizzle and I didn't want to take any risks - but Sebastian got past me and I was told that I had to get back in front of him. I couldnt believe it. Then at the very last corner I managed to get past Timo - it was just amazing. This was one of the toughest races of my life, if not the toughest. I was shouting, Do I have it? Do I have it? on the radio. It was only when I took the chequered flag and got to Turn One that the team told me I was world champion. I was ecstatic."
At the age of just 23 years, nine months and 26 days, Hamilton is the youngest champion in Formula One history. He is the seventh man to win the drivers title with McLaren, who last took the crown with Mika Hakkinen back in 1999.
"Well, that was a really tough race, said team boss Ron Dennis. We never pushed hard, we never did anything silly, but of course the late rain made things extraordinarily tense. Even so, even when Sebastian got past Lewis, we never gave up, and Lewis never gave up, because we knew that Timo was on intermediate tyres. But Lewis took his chance brilliantly, and the result was one of the most thrilling finishes in sporting history. I'm so proud of Lewis; I'm so proud of the team; everyone - every single one of them - did an absolutely fantastic job."