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The 30 second World Champion
The 30 second World Champion
Posted By:   |  03 Nov 2008   |  1:20 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Spare a thought for Felipe Massa. The Brazilian did everything he needed to at Interlagos, he won the race from pole position and as he crossed the line, Lewis Hamilton was in 6th place, needing fifth to take the title.

Massa had 38 seconds lead over Hamilton. He was world champion elect.

But on that final lap, Timo Glock was struggling on dry tyres and the rain began falling harder, just as McLaren expected it to. Their weatherman was under real pressure from the pit wall as he had predicted a heavy downpour and McLaren had instructed Hamilton to let Vettel, who had passed him for fifth place, go because they felt he would catch and pass Glock. It took half a lap longer than they expected but he did it.

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just thought id let u knw that despite me hating lewis hamilton and u being very biased i have enjoyed ur commentary of late cos ur passion shows through as does ur knowledge and when u go a bit mental its pretty funny. i hope u continue 2 broadcast on the bbc


An amazing end to the championship! Both guys have strengths and weaknesses, but I just feel Lewis has more natural talent. It took Massa quite a few seasons to learn how to be consistent, helped greatly by Smedley & Schumacher. But thrown into an unknown situation (such as rain) this 'learnt talent' doesn't always apply and you have to run on natural racing instinct. Having said that, Lewis still has a lot to learn if he has to compete with Alonso in a Ferrari anytime soon!

And James - congratulations on some excellent commentary in extremely chaotic circumstances. Listening to the 5live commentary and various clips on the internet, I haven't yet heard any commentary that had spotted Glock in the final corner! It's always nice to hear a build up in the final few corners (giving a race recap, background, karting career, family etc) leading up to a big shout across the line, but that just wasn't possible! Did you have something in mind?


What an incredible race to sign off with. It was the most dramatic I've every seen (make that the 2nd: let's remember Imola 94).

Massa has stepped up yet another gear this year. The coaching he's reported to have had from Michael Schumacher seems to have paid off in a big way; I wonder if other drivers will take this approach now. I remember a driver - I think it was Nico Rosberg - called for drivers to use coaches last year.

It makes me wonder - if Massa can show that much improvement, then which other drivers have been thrown away who could have blossomed under a coaching regime?

I wonder how he'll show against Raikkonen next year. What with Kimi's extra long testing schedule and all.

Anyway, thanks for the commentary, James; you had my heart beating like something that beats very fast, and I was shouting at the telly like a shouty person.


It was really bitter-sweet for Massa, and I felt for him in those moments after he crossed the line. He did everything he had to do - he won the race and you can't ask for anything more than that. The rest was in the laps of the gods, and I guess they favoured Hamilton that day.

2008 was a vintage season for Formula One - let's hope 2009 is even better! 🙂



Well done to you and Martin for correctly and instantly spotting Glock on the last lap. I was standing, screaming at the TV, eyes fixed on Vettel's car and would never have noticed him if you hadn't called it.

Perfect commentating!



ey, Massa has been a gent all season and has outgrown most of his gremlins, nice to see a driver get the chance to develop, all be it byb default!
Hope he gets a shot next year, Smedleys done a great job with Massa head and so has Fellipé.

as an aside, thanx for some good memories Jimbo! Know youve come in for a lot of criticism, most of it unfair, I think you've done a grand job and I think lots of people will be missing you next season.

lets just say au revoir! x


What an amazing race, I am THE biggest F1 fan and I am currently on holiday in the lake district and could not believe my luck to be sat in a lounge surrounded by black and white photos of old school racing photos!!! Whilst watching hamilton win. You would not believe the excitement that occured in this house during that last lap! Just this minute put 2 and 2 together!! Amazing co-incidence!! Amazing House. Tom


Probably the most nerve racking race I have ever watched.

As much as I want to see this again, I just feel that this was a once in a lifetime event.

Whether anyone loves or hates either Lewis or Felipe, I think we should all give them a big thumbs up for a thrilling season which went more down to the wire then ever.

Hopefully 2009 will be more of the same but with a few more exciting races, maybe even at Valencia 🙂


Like Chris O said,you read the race perfectly and knew that it was Glock instantly.That was brilliant...I watched F1 on 2 channels that day,and the other channel's commentators didn't even realise that Hamilton was the world champion until he crossed the line...

Job well done,James....

As for the race..I really feel sorry for Massa...He did a lot of mistakes as a world champion contender this year (silverstone,for example),but he had done everything perfectly last weekend,and I can only imagine how painful it is to be a world champion for only 38 seconds.

As much as I hate Hamilton,I think he deserves this year's title.


Hi James,

Thanks for all your verdicts throughout the season, those were really full of insight, exactly the type of info I am desperately looking for all the time.

A nice ending to the championship, however, one issue is not clear to me:

Everyone claims that Hamilton was lucky. My view is a bit different: it was Massa who was NOT extremely luckly this time; i.e. all cases (no rain, more heavy rain, earlier rain etc.) should have played in the favor of Hamilton except for the one where the rain does not start to be more intense at the end. I believe that this latter single constellation is clearly a very minor part of the event horizont.

Glock was 20 second behind Hamilton just prior to the last tyre change. At the finish it was reduced to approx. 6 seconds, hence, it was approx. 14 seconds better not to change to intermediates. In the extreme worst case scenario (for Mclaren) all pilots retained dry tyres but Hamilton. In this case he would have finsihed exactly there at the fifth position (Glock would not have passed him, however, Vettel and the three from the podium would have been further ahead of him).

That is to say, Massa would have been extremely lucky to clinch the title, and it almost happened. It not only required to Hamilton change the tyre, but also Glock not to change it and also that the rain did not start to be more intense for a couple of minutes longer. The concurrence of these three events is extremely seldom, that is what I would call luck.



Just wanted to say what a great race, shame one has to win it and one lose it, I am a big Lewis fan but would also say that Massa has impressed me so much this year, that I do hope he can claim his own championship in the years to come.

The commentary from yourself and Martin is absolutely brilliant, you both add so much to the race and can ramp up the excitement in a way few really could, I know its not an easy task to take over from a legend like that of Murray Walker, but James, youve taken over that roll so well and made it your own and I've really enjoyed your commentary in each race since.

I just hope we can benefit from you and Martin's commanteries in the future, you both voiced the action so well.

Best wishes, Richard


For my money, Massa should have been champion this year, and he would have been but for unreliability. He's been the best driver in the field, and deserved it more than Hamilton; they've both made errors, but Massa has made less, and has had so much bad luck too which have robbed him of big point scores. People point to Massa's race at Silverstone, but that was car related - Kimi didn't do much better at keeping his F2008 pointing in the right direction on that day, and he has proven his wet weather ability in the past.

I don't entirely agree with all the talk of this being Massa's only shot at the title. Ferrari don't operate the same #1 and #2 driver system they did in the Schumacher years and in both 2007 and 2008, Massa and Kimi have been free to race each other and fight for the title until it's no longer mathematically possible. An on-form Kimi hardly trounced Massa last season, and Felipe's improved greatly this year; he's stepped up to the plate and as a result Ferrari now have a driver line up who are both capable of fighting for the title. As long as Alonso stays out of the title picture, Massa has as good a chance as anybody to be WDC, as long as he has the car underneath him.

That'll be the biggest thing for any driver going ahead now; how their teams adapt to the new regulations? It's quite likely that we'll have a shake up next year and McLaren and Ferrari might not be the pace setters any more, especially having put so much work into their 2008 cars.

Being a Jenson Button fan, I hope Honda are the ones who get it right.


That was incredible. The emotions when Massa's family thought they had won the championship when in fact Hamilton was crossing the line 5th was incredible. I'm not a big fan of Hamilton, but my word, that was cutting it fine.

Excellent commentry by the way, you really captured the excitement.


Brilliant race, sensational season, all very well commented upon by the ITV team.

It's at this point in the year that we all start to think about 'what if?' scenarios. Like what if Lewis and Felipe had finished equal on points?

I'm sure that everyone knows that in that event we would look back to the number of wins, second, third places etc. If no winner can be deduced by that I'm pretty sure that qualifying positions then come into play.

The bit I found really amusing (and this was published in F1 Racing Magazine recently) is that if after having looked back at all possible classification criteria there is no clear winner, the FIA may declare a winner at their discretion, using any criteria they see fit.

Now that would have been interesting...

Well done again to James, Martin and the ITV team, and I hope to see you all back on the TV some time soon.



I'm a fan of the brits but more particularly racing. Thats not to say drivers who are quick but drivers who race. Thats where the exitement of the sport is and thats why I like many others would have to agree that the right man got the world championship.

Well done Lewis and well done to James, Martin and the rest of the ITV team for raising the standard of racing coverage and delivering the exitement.



James Allen,

I write this as a farewell to you, a man who clearly has a great passion for the sport of Formula 1. However, I also would like to state that you ought to be the President of the Lewis Hamilton fan club because of the continuous and incredibly centred coverage you and the rest of the ITV F1 team have given us for the past two years. There is supporting British talent and then there is taking the absolute mick and you guys did the latter.

What happened to supporting D.C, Davidson and Button? The former tended to get more of a shout-out because of Mr Brundle's status as his manager and Button was hounded by Goodman on a number of occasions, but when Davidson was there for Super Aguri, where was the support?

I am afraid to say I'm not sad to see any of you gone and I relish the fact that F1 is going back to the BBC, where it belongs, unadulterated by irritating advert breaks with Sony and Santander advertising and hopefully with 'The Chain' back as a theme tune instead of that pathetic jingle ITV gave you.


C.A.R. - I'm sorry but even the Honda F1 team didn't care what position they were in this season, so why should we? Even then, we did get plenty of updates. And as Davidson was always at the back anyway, we didn't really need to be told this every five minutes.

All the top teams were talked about a lot, and all countries (Spain & Brazil especially) have a home driver bias. But considering the sort of things Brazilian TV did to Lewis, I'd imagine our coverage to be much less polarised than theirs!


JA writes: Thanks to all for the insightful comment. Really appreciate this thread.
To Ace Best and SamC
Why do you hate Hamilton so much?

As for C.A.R's argument and Daniel Hoyes response, I try to reflect the balance of the race as 60% front race (ie top 6) 30% middle race (ie P7-P15) and 10% back race. If you pick up a copy of pretty much any race off your shelf you will find that I kept that balance. Think of all the info about Force India, Honda and Toro Rosso this year...


The 30 second champion is not a very fair comment, for my money Massa should have been a champion before Brazil, but the reliability of the Ferrari was a issue in this year.

However British dominated forum this could be but McLaren has been always very poor on strategy, the innovation was/is not there, (what I have seen over the last 10 years, missed only 2 or 3 races) a virtually rookie Ferrari team managment lost the title due to raliability of the ferari car and made it desperately close and it was providence that Lewis won, if he would have lost it, the driver was not to be blamed. Last year they lost it , this year it was luck, but kudos to lewis to create that opputunity.

Lewis is a good driver, but he is not the best in this current time, pundits and unbiased people feel Alonso is the best by a mile, lets also look at Jackie Stewards comments after the Singapore GP, he said look at Massa and Lewis , they are making mistakes which world champions do not make. But both were in the 1st and 2nd positions , only due to lack of challenge from other qulaity drivers.We lack it now.

one comments which Martin Bundle, James Allen, Steve Slater and other so called wise men tell while they are on air, Lewis drives like Scumi,Senna,Prost...I think they are only making empty air ways, on the competitive car I think he cannot match Eddie and David, forget Alonso.

Next year BMW and Ferrari could be very potent force, so will be Alonso.


James,to answer your question,

First of all,I want you to take note that I don't underestimate Lewis's driving skill.He's excelent,and I think there are only a few on the grid who have the same level of driving skill.

I started to dislike Hamilton at Monaco 2007.You know,the whole "I'm only number 2" thing.For God's sake,Lewis..You are extremly lucky to start your formula 1 career on Mclaren Mercedes team.Imagine how things would've gone if you joined Williams,or Red Bull.So,don't complain too much about it.You're still so lucky to finish on the podium so many times on your first year in F1.

Then he tried to get away from Alonso's shadow by setting a completly different setup for his car,and look where that action put him in the middle of his 2007 season.

Then there was Hungary 2007.In my understanding (I might have been mistaken,please correct me) Alonso and Lewis were on different strategy,that's why the team asked him to give Alonso the track position.Altough,from what I read later on,according to Lewis,he had tried to give away his position,but Alonso was too slow.

Not to mention Canada 2008 (well,perhaps that was a pure accident ).

But to be fair,there were times when he showed us how good he is (Canada 2007,Melbourne 2008).

Sorry for the long comment,James.I hope I didn't bore you.Hehe..But in short,maybe I don't like Hamilton simply because I'm not british,therefore,I'm not an automated fan of his...Lol.J/K


What a finish!!! I was screaming at the TV, "Glock is going slow" and my husband was a bit confused because I was watching the live timing as well as the TV coverage and he was only watching the TV and couldn't see that Hamilton was going to catch Glock before the finish. Wow. What a way to decide the championship. I must admit, I was not a fan of Massa and I wanted Hamilton to win, however, after seeing how Massa acted at the end of this race, my respect for him vastly increased. What a sportsman he was. After watching Hamilton after the Australian GP/Malaysian GP 2009, I now wish Massa had won last season.

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