Race Notes: Brazilian Grand Prix 2009

Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2009
Date: 18 October 2009
Circuit: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Location: Interlagos, São Paulo, Brazil
(PitlaneFanatic) (AerialF1)
Distance: 71 laps
Tyre choices (red): SS / S / M / H

Coverage: BBC One with BBC Radio 5 Live audio
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)
Interviewers: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

R5 commentary: David Croft (Crofty) and Anthony Davidson (Ant)
R5 interviewer: Holly Samos

Coverage begins at 4pm UK time.

NOTE – My notes will be shorter than usual because this race happened the day before I moved to a new address, so the time I hoped to watch a replay to catch the quotes was actually spent moving all my stuff. Also, I’ll be honest, I thought I’d posted this already. Apologies.

Points situation:

– Button only needs to finish 3rd or better to secure the title today, no matter what Barrichello or Vettel do.
– Barrichello needs to win the race with Button scoring no higher than a single podium position from the last two races.
– Vettel can mathematically win but he needs to win both races and hope the Brawn team has a nightmare.

71 lap race.

Grid

Barrichello, Webber
Sutil, Trulli
Raikkonen, Buemi
Rosberg, Kubica
Nakajima, Alonso
Kobayashi, Alguersuari
Grosjean, Button
Vettel, Kovalainen
Hamilton, Heidfeld
Fisichella
Liuzzi took a 5 place penalty for a gearbox change and he’s at the back

Rubens spoke to Jake after qualifying:
“My engineer Jock Clear was so loud on the radio, it is the first phase of acheiving the dream. I have [the chance] to win the championship but also I’ve tried for years to win the Brazilian GP.”
Says he’s relaxed.

Big focus on Rubens and his guys at the moment from the BBC. Talking with Jock now.

Switching to Button. [I’ll be honest again… I mentally tuned this out in the live show because we’ve heard so many interviews with JB this season, and I was hoping to pick up the quotes later in the week. Oops.]

Felipe! He’s recovering and looking forward to next season, he’s looking for a good race from Ferrari but also from Rubens.

Half an hour to the start.

Martin Brundle joins us to talk about recovering from accidents, replays of Interlagos some years ago when Jos Verstappen’s Benetton hit him on the head.. Ouch.

Lee caught up with Vettel:
“We are ready to fight and to attack today. Let’s see what happens today, it’s a very long race here and the last two years have been exciting. Right now the sun is shining but maybe later we’ll see some showers, we have some good pace. I am motivated, I know it’s not an easy position to start from, we will see.”
Says he’s aiming for 1st or 2nd – he needs to or he’s out of the title fight.

Replay: Something has come off Vettel’s car as he made his way to the grid, DC says it could be dry ice or the drinks system.

Martin’s Gridwalk
He’s on the start line.
Rubens, he waves at the crowd, can you do it? “Yeah, I can. I have a great car in these conditions. If it does rain we need to get it correct at the time, it’s a lottery. My feet are on the ground, we push as hard as we can.”

Mark Webber, a race you can win? “Yep, we’ll give it us our best shot and quiten down the fans who want Rubens to win. The crowd up there are very passionate and emotional but they are racers too and we’ll give them something. After quali I said to Rubens, 8 points will be enough, give me 10! We’re in good shape.”

Martin trying to get down seven rows on the grid, which he’s not done before, to speak to Button and Vettel. En route he spies Kobayashi.
Kamui: “Yesterday was difficult conditions, our performance was really good. Today is another day in dry conditions.” Just a quickie..

Interrupts Tanya yet again! Running theme for the season has been Martin interrupting German TV’s gridwalk.
Vettel: “It’s a long way from the bottom end of the grid but we’ll see what we can do from here.”

Button is not on the grid! Neither are the McLaren guys. No interviews so Martin bails out.

Brazilian National Anthem
Terrible sound quality! We can hardly hear the singer. This may be a blessing.

Button with Lee: “I’m feeling good, a circuit I enjoy racing on, nice and hot. It’s gonna be a challenge. We’ll make the best of it.”

The BBC track guide with Mark Webber went in here somewhere. At this point before the race I’m busy getting myself a drink to consume during the event, so I don’t usually see the track guide.

Ted, fuel weights:
[I think I was still getting a drink because I have no notes and Ted does this at rapid-fire pace, making it hard to follow even if you aren’t trying to transcribe]

Both David and Eddie say they don’t think Button will win this race.

Grid

Barrichello, Webber
Sutil, Trulli
Raikkonen, Buemi
Rosberg, Kubica
Nakajima, Alonso
Kobayashi, Alguersuari
Grosjean, Button
Vettel, Kovalainen
Hamilton, Heidfeld
Fisichella
Liuzzi took a 5 place penalty for a gearbox change and will start from the back or pitlane or something.

Live Notes

I’m now on 5Live coverage. 5 mins to go.

Engines fired.

Formation Lap

All drivers on hard tyres apart from Kimi, Lewis and Nick.

Grid. Tense yet? I am!

1.2.3.4.5.. Go!

Rubens leads, crash! Ferrari and McLaren. Kovalainen. Now Sutil and Trulli crash!
SAFETY CAR
Alonso hasn’t come through. Trulli and Sutil out of their cars, a fight nearly breaks out!
oh FIRE in pitlane, fire in pitlane. Kovalainen pits and takes the fuel hose with him which spills fuel all over Raikkonen, it catches light briefly. Heikki stops and then rejoins. Not sure who got the hose off him. [it was Brawn apparently]

Replays:
Vettel taps Kovalainen into a spin forcing Fisichella wide.
Sutil and Trulli come together, Trulli tried going outside and ran out of road, he should have backed off.

RESTART

Barr, Web, Ros, Kub, Buemi, Naka, Koba, Gros, But, Alg, Vet, Heid, Fisi, Ham, Rai, Kov

Kubica passes Rosberg on the restart.
Button vs Grosjean! Jenson takes him at last, good racing.

Button is straight up to the back of Nakajima and passes him! He’s now 7th, worth 2pts.
Hamilton passes.. someone.. lots of passing all over the field.

Trulli talking to Holly – he says they should ban Sutil for the next race, immediately! Crofty says he should look at a replay and I agree.

Kovalainen passes Grosjean

Action all the way, I haven’t had time to mark a lap counter! This is lap 9 of 71.

L9 – Fastest lap from Webber. Button has got bottled up behind Kobayashi.

L11 – Things have settled a bit, I can get my breath back. Barrichello leads Webber by 1.8sec with Kubica 3rd and Rosberg 4th, Buemi 5th, Kobayashi then Button.

L14 – Laps tick by quickly here, only 1m14s.
Button radio: “Kobayashi is 2 laps longer”

L16 – Pitlane incident involving Kovalainen is under stewards’ investigation
L17 – Stewards will investigate Trulli/Sutil incident after the race.
Holly reports from McLaren that Heikki was released early by the team (i.e. he didn’t take off by himself).

L19 – Tweet from @OfficialBrawnGP: #F1 Third fastest lap in a row for RB.
L20 – Heidfeld is the first of the scheduled stoppers.
L21 – Barrichello pits from the lead, where will he come out.. he’s behind Nakajima and ahead of Vettel for 9th – but Vettel passes him immediately.

L22 – Heidfeld has stopped by the side of the track. That long run of no-DNFs and now they are all coming at once. Teammate Kubica pits, he’s out behind Vettel who has pulled a gap on the heavier Barrichello.

L24 – Button passes Kobayashi! Off-screen while we watched Rosberg pit.. We get a replay, sold him a dummy! Ducked right then left to fool Kamui, nice move.
L25 – Great stuff between Nakajima and Kobayashi, side by side!

L26 – Webber pits and he’s ahead of Barrichello by some way, Rubens has a problem? Rubens’ problem is he’s back in traffic!

L27 – Rosberg is slowing, that’s another top 5 car for Button not to worry about.
Holly: “No fuel went into Heidfeld’s car at his stop, he pulled over because he’d run out.”
Oops.

L29 – Button pits from 2nd place, Kovalainen also in from 8th.
Button is out between the Toro Rossos of Buemi and Alguersuari.

L30 – Kobayashi pits, so does Alguersuari.

Big crash from Nakajima at turn 4!

L32 – Ah bugger, looks like Kobayashi just moved over on Nakajima, took his wing off.. Kamui is good but he weaves a bit, that was completely his fault.

L33 – Button dives under Buemi at turn one, committed move, nicely done. Jenson is getting a lot of passing done today.

L35 – Holly update: Rosberg retired due to gearbox failure.

The track is still dirty where Nakajima went off. Mud everywhere.

L37 – Vettel pits from 2nd place. He’s out behind Button for 7th. Took the hard tyre. Fisichella was also in, from 9th.

L40 – After the first stops, Webber leads by 6.3 over Kubica, who is 6.3 ahead of Barrichello and a closely-following Hamilton, then 13.1 to Raikkonen and 1.5 to Button and Vettel who are together.

L42 – Hamilton pits, he’s off Barrichello’s tail and out behind Liuzzi in 8th.

L43 – Raikkonen pits and is out in clear air.

L44 – Steven Roy in the Sidepodcast comments has noticed on the live timing screens the humidity graphs are going vertical – is rain approaching?

L45 – We can see dark clouds approaching.

Button radio – “Hamilton is fuelled to the end, we need 14.4s.”
Jenson needs to stop again but Lewis pitted under the Safety Car.

L48 – Webber is pulling a lead on the field.

L50 – Barrichello pits from 2nd, he’s in clear air ahead of Hamilton.

51 laps completed, 20 to go

L52 – Webber pits from the lead, he takes the softer tyre for the final stint.

L53 – Vettel took another set of hard tyres but may have enough fuel to make the end.. when will he use the soft tyres? Splash and dash or hoping for rain?

L55 – Button pits, and he’s out alongside Kovalainen…. Heikki beats him!
L56 – Vettel pits for those softer tyres, and he beats Kovalainen and Button!

L57 – Order: Webber, Kubica, Barrichello, Hamilton, Vettel, Kovalainen, Button, Raikkonen, Buemi, Fisichella.

L59 – Raikkonen is catching Button.
L60 – Kovalainen pits! That releases Button into clear air.

Kubica is having an anonymous run to 2nd, we’ve barely seen him.

L61 – Hamilton passes Barrichello into the front straight! Lewis 3rd, Rubens 4th.

L63 – Noo!! Rubens has a puncture! It’s all over. congratulations to Jenson Button who will win the title – and he put in a good drive for it too.

L65 – Rubens is now running 8th. Such a crap way for this to end – if he’d lost the title by finishing 3rd that’s fine and that’s the way it was going, but to lose it to a puncture… If Webber DNFs, that puncture would have made all the difference.

L67 – Button radio: “Chance of a few drops of rain near the end.”
Replay of Kobayashi diving by Fisichella! Great move! Fisi does seem to go to sleep near the end of races.

L69 – Two laps to go. Kobayashi has impressed everyone with his drive today, and Kubica is having a great run too.

L70 – Final lap

L71 – Felipe Massa waves the chequered flag as Mark Webber wins!!
Jenson Button is the Champion!! BrawnGP are the Champions!!

Congrats to all concerned, a great effort.

Button on the radio: “We Are The Champions!”

Barrichello applauds his team-mate as they circulate the cool-down lap together.

Parc Ferme

Button and Barrichello congratulate, Hamilton comes over too.

Jenson is running around to different people to celebrate!

Podium
Advance Australia Fair for Webber
Austrian anthem for Red Bull
Trophies. It seems drivers have been presented with the logo of the Klingon Empire as a trophy? What we do know is that they have been recycled from local rubbish. No, really. I’m struggling to find a link but it was plastic reused and remoulded to make the trophies.

Champaaaagggneee!

BBC crew in the middle of the Brawn garage with Jenson, the only thing I’ve got from it is:
“Kobayashi is absolutely crazy!”

The world’s media is surrounding the BBC interview, cameras and bodies everywhere. Scenes of all the mechanics and engineers celebrating with a beer (whoever got that one-race sponsorship deal on the sidepods of the cars for the Brazilian beer company was a GENIUS).

Sebastian Vettel isn’t in a very good mood at all and reportedly isn’t talking to anyone.

Meanwhile, lots of celebrating and interviews with all from the Brawn team. Yes they’ve been the focus of a lot of attention this year and it has been a little annoying at times, but let’s just remind ourselves that this team almost ceased to exist last December. The turnaround in fortunes is astonishing so well done to them.

Race Result

Driver Gap Pts
1 Webber 71 laps 10
2 Kubica 7.6sec 8
3 Hamilton 18.9sec 6
4 Vettel 19.6sec 5
5 Button 29.0sec 4
6 Räikkönen 33.3sec 3
7 Buemi 35.9sec 2
8 Barrichello 45.4sec 1
9 Kobayashi 63.3sec
10 Fisichella 70.6sec
11 Liuzzi 71.3sec
12 Kovalainen 73.4sec
13 Grosjean 1 lap
14 Alguersuari 1 lap
DNF Nakajima Accident
DNF Rosberg Gearbox
DNF Heidfeld Fuel
DNF Sutil Accident
DNF Trulli Accident
DNF Alonso Accident

Nice to see Mark pick up another win, shame nobody will remember it with the focus on the title win! Robert seemed to go completely unnoticed in the broadcast and yet finished second.
Vettel did manage to out-finish Button despite starting behind him, but it wasn’t enough as both put in great drives. Despite the puncture Barrichello still picked up a point for 8th.
A good result for Buemi, too.

Drivers’ Championship

Driver Prev BR Total
1 Button 85 4 89 C
2 Vettel 69 5 74
3 Barrichello 71 1 72
4 Webber 51.5 10 61.5
5 Hamilton 43 6 49
6 Räikkönen 45 3 48
7 Rosberg 34.5 34.5
8 Trulli 30.5 30.5
9 Alonso 26 26
10 Glock 24 24
11 Massa 22 22
12 Kovalainen 22 22
13 Kubica 9 8 17
14 Heidfeld 15 15
15 Fisichella 8 8
16 Sutil 5 5
17 Buemi 3 2 5
18 Bourdais 2 2

Congratulations to Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 World Champion!
Vettel’s efforts see him overhaul Barrichello in the table, a valiant chase towards the end of the season but let down by poor reliability earlier in the year.
Webber manages to jump himself out of the clutches of the chasing duo of Hamilton and Raikkonen who cannot now beat him.
Kubica moves up a position and Buemi joins Sutil on 5 points.

Constructors’ Championship

Constructor Prev BR Total
1 Brawn 156 5 161 C
2 Red Bull 120.5 15 135.5
3 McLaren 65 6 71
4 Ferrari 67 3 70
5 Toyota 54.5 54.5
6 Williams 34.5 34.5
7 BMW 24 8 32
8 Renault 26 26
9 Force India 13 13
10 Toro Rosso 5 2 7

Congratulations to BrawnGP, the 2009 F1 World Champions!
Red Bull’s chase came strong in the end but the points lead built up earlier on was good enough for Brawn to hold on.
McLaren and Ferrari switch positions again in the fight for 3rd.
BMW jump Renault with a strong haul of points.
Toro Rosso put some more on the board too, I can’t remember when the last-placed team scored as many points as this. Perhaps I’ll check for the season round-up.

Next Event

Abu Dhabi. (Blogger deleted what I had here and I can’t be bothered to fix)

Flag courtesy of 4 International Flags

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Congratulations to Button and Brawn!

Congrulations to Jenson Button and the BrawnGP team for winning the F1 Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships today!

5th position with Barrichello delayed by a puncture and Vettel not making enough progress through the field was enough to secure both titles. Rubens was running 3rd at the time which wasn’t enough for him to keep the fight open until the finale, so while cruel to be denied in this way it was immaterial in the end.

Well done too to Mark Webber for his second win of the year.

Full race notes will be written and posted later in the week, I am in the middle of moving so it’ll have to wait a few days!

Race notes: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

2008 Grande Premio do Brasil
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sau Paulo, Brazil
71 laps

*LIVE* on ITV1 for the last time

Anchor: Steve Rider
Analyst: Mark Blundell

Lead commentary: James Allen
Expert commentary: Martin Brundle

Pitlane; Ted Kravitz (strategy), Louise Goodman (DNFs)

I note there is no title sponsor for this race, just looking at the schedule list on f1.com and 4 of the 18 are unsponsored.

I’m watching ITV News before coverage begins, Gordon Brown says he and the rest of Britain are behind Lewis Hamilton. I feel better for knowing that and I’m sure Lewis does too.

While we wait there are 7 drivers on the second race in the two-race engine cycle: Hamilton, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Webber, Rosberg, Nakajima and Sutil. These guys may have to take it easy towards the end if they are worried about reliability. Everyone else can go for it without those nagging doubts in the mind about whether the engine will last.

Coverage begins at 16.04 (56 mins to go) and we immediately launch into the dramatic title fight montage. Nice way to set the scene.

There are storm clouds around the circuit, some of them look very dark! Mark says they can hear the odd crack of thunder.

Recap of what is needed: Lewis needs to finish 5th or better. Felipe needs to finish 1st or 2nd.

51 mins to go – Qualifying Review with James Allen

Massa (P1) / Trulli (P2)
Raikkonen / Hamilton
Kovalainen / Alonso
Vettel / Heidfeld
Bourdais / Glock
Piquet / Webber
Kubica / Coulthard
Barrichello / Nakajima
Button / Rosberg
Fisichella / Sutil

Rapid-fire post-qual chats:
Jarno: If I’m wheel to wheel at the start on the inside I won’t give up.
Kimi: 3rd is a good place to start, I’d prefer that to 2nd place, on the clean side so should get a good start.
Heikki: If I can help Lewis in any way I will do the best I can.
Lewis: Off pole it is always a bit easier, at P4 we are on the dirtier side, I’ve just got to keep my nose clean.

Steve thanks Lewis from ITV for all his help over the last two years.
Lewis thanks ITV for all their support going back to his GP2 days.

Cut back to Steve live in pitlane: “We shouldn’t be biased especially standing here in front of the Ferrari pits, but you all know that we are.”
Ha!

Circuit Review with Martin Brundle
We are onboard with Felipe Massa for his pole lap.
195mph into the Senna S turn 1.
Full power on exit on to the straight.
195mph into Decida de Lago.
Into the twisty stuff, good traction, he missed the apex of turn 10.
The compression in Mergulho knocks you out, hook into Juncao for the long run to the line.

44 minutes to the start, a review of last year’s start where Lewis messed up at turn 3 or 4.
Recorded segment with Louise talking to Lewis and clips of this and that. I don’t really learn anything new, we’ve seen all this before.
Lewis says he’s not concerned that Massa is on pole.

Over to Ted with clips of Senna winning at Interlagos. Says there’s a lot of pressure to live up to Senna for any Brazilian driver.
Emerson Fittipaldi: He’s A very good team player, a special year for him.
Kimi: For me it doesn’t matter who wins. For sure for out team it would be nice for Felipe but I don’t really think about it, whoever wins deserves it.

Ted is now on the grid… no he’s by the grandstand alonsgide the grid! The crowd smell of beer. Gets out a British flag and they all start booing, throwing a bit of beer over him!
Cut to Red Bull where there are cheers for DC. A lone piper plays Flower of Scotland!
DC: “It’s great to see the sentiment in the paddock. I may not have won the championship but I’ve made a few friends along the way.”

36 mins to go

Steve’s pretty emotional as he presented DC with the Autosport Young Driver of the Year award some 20 years ago.
“It’s also time to review ITV’s 12 years in the sport” and they replay the My Chemical Romance video I posted last night.

The ITV-F1 website will continue into the winter and all through next season. Competition time, win a trip to the inaugural Abu Dhabi GP.

30 minutes, engines have fired and cars are starting to leave the pits. Mark is rabbitting on about the pressure Lewis is under.

Ad break. First of the day after half an hour, nice going.

Louise with Vettel: We’ll try and survive the first lap then anything can happen. It will be an interesting race, anything is possible.

Martin is on the grid alongside the safety car. Says there is less chance of rain now, the cloud is breaking up and moving away. Short run to first corner.
Walking back through the grid, finds Trulli: “It’s nice to be on the front row, I will do my race, I have no sympathy for anyone I want my best possible result, try to score as many points as possible.” Said with a smile and cheeky grin!
Martin says Jarno could play a major role, Kimi will be desperate to get past him. Expects Kimi to back Lewis into the pack, slow him down.

Left-hand side is the clean side of the grid, the racing line with the rubber.
Finds a random mechanic from McLaren. His job is to move tyres around. Worthwhile interview Martin…
He goes to Ron Dennis, what did you say to Lewis: “Avoid trouble, follow instructions, this is as much about the team as it is him.”
With Bernie, 25 of 58 championships have come down to the last race, how do you do it? “It’s not easy, more difficult every year!” Crowd? They were booing earlier. “It’s not good to boo anyone, cheer but not boo.”

Can’t get anyone else, they are too busy. Back to Steve.

15 minutes

Ted with Alan Permayne of Renault. They are trying to get a podium.

Louise with Anthony Hamilton who has his fingers crossed, says Lewis loves the car and the circuit, it’ll be a really good day.

10 minutes – Drivers are suited and booted, helmets are now going on.

Ad break.

5 minutes – F1 ident graphics, track map.
We hand over to James and Martin in the commentary box above the pits.

James: 12 years since the last British champion, 16 years for Brazil.

RAIN!! It is raining on the grid!!
Martin: “That surprised a lot of teams. Everyone I spoke to on the grid said it was breaking up.”

This is heavy rain.

START ABORTED
Race Control – Formation lap will start at 15:10 local (that’s 12 minutes from now).

Ted says this is Intermediate weather. FIA man is soaked through.

Chaos on the grid as teams change tyres but look, the rain has stopped already and the guys are saying when it stops it evaporates very quickly because it is so hot.

The Safety Car had left the grid and took up station at the end of the lap in case it needed to pick up the field at the start. They’ve now brought it around to the front of the grid in case an SC start is needed, in which case the extreme wet tyres will be required under the rules.

Reminder: In F1 the official ‘wet’ tyres everyone calls ‘intermediates’. The ‘extreme wets’ are known as just ‘wets’. F1 teams like to name things as they’ve always been known rather than the supplier’s marketing reasons.

Alonso radio: Radar is clear for 40 minutes.
Ted agrees as he’s seen Ferrari’s radar. All the teams have the radar data from Meteo France.

ITV have taken the opportunity for an ad break.
I’ve taken the opportunity to grab a beer. Carlsberg Export.

The Safety Car has been around for a sighting lap. It is wet in places, bone dry in others.

Martin tips Toro Rosso for a good result, they won at Monza in the rain.

Tyre warmers are coming off the cars, what do people have?

Lewis is on full wets. Red lights flashing on the cars, when you run wets you MUST have your rain light turned on.

17.10: Cars pull away on the formation lap, lots of spray.

Starting order: Massa, Trulli, Kimi, Lewis, Heikki, Alonso, Vettel, Heidfeld, Bourdais, Glock, Piquet, Webber, Kubica, Coulthard, Barrichello, Nakajima, Button, Rosberg, Fisichella, Sutil – No penalties!

Martin: It has rained mostly around the pit straight area. Kubica is on dry tyres. The Bridestone inters have a very wide operating window, it can be quite dry and they still work.

Grid forming. Kubica has pitted.

5.4.3.2.1.GO!

They ease through turn one, crash in turn 2. DC spun with another car.

Kovy has been taken by Vettel and Alonso.

Safety Car for the incident at turns one and two. This is what I said earlier about parking it at the end of the lap.

Piquet is out with a broken wing. Ah shit, Coulthard gets out of the car, he couldn’t recover it. That’s hugely disappointing for two reasons: this was his last race, he deserved a good race, the whole paddock seemed to want him to do well. Secondly he was the guy running the camera inside the helmet!

Ad break. Order as they circulate on Lap2:
Massa, Trulli, Kimi, Lewis, Vettel, Alonso, Kova, Bourdais, Glock, Webber, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Button, Sutil, Fisi, Naka, Kubica

Fisi pits at the end of L2.

Replay of Vettel and Alonso passing Kovalainen.

DC is talking to his guys on the pitwall to help Webber’s race. Martin thinks DC took a hit from Nakajima. Piquet was out a little further around the corner.

Replay of the start: Heikki blocks Vettel to let Hamilton away.
Rosberg tags Coulthard who was knocked into Nakajima.
Helmet cam, he’s just pushed off. Rosberg’s fault entirely.

Lights out on the SC. Track is largely dry apart from the main straight, turns one and two, and the pitlane.
Fisi pitted a lap ago?

L4 – RESTART

Heikki overtook Alonso on entry to turn one but Alonso repasses in 2.

L5 – Heidfeld passes Barrichello for 11th. Fisichella had taken dry tyres on his stop and is last, 6 seconds per lap slower. Will it pay off for him later or will it cost too much time?

L7 – Massa leads Trulli by 1.8s.
Louise with DC: “Took a cautious approach, left plenty of room, Rosberg hit me and spun me around, then Nakajima continued our crashing love affair. I wanted to get to the chequered flag and do some donuts which I think I would get fined for!” He thanks his parents and his fiance.

Raikkonen goes for Trulli but doesn’t make it.
Rosberg pits, so does Button. Both take dry tyres as Fisichella is setting reasonable times now.

Martin says this is the first wet running of the weekend.

Replay: Heidfeld passes Webber for 10th.

L9 – Bourdais and Glock pit, so do Sutil and Nakajima. I’m getting this from live timing, the TV is a few seconds behind on noticing.

A Honda and Williams have a fight exiting the pits.

Martin: The treaded tyres fall away quickly when they overheat.

Vettel, Alonso, Webber pit. Barrichello too.

Fisichella sets a purple time in sector 2!

A fire extinguisher has gone off at Honda! No car there..

L10 – Massa pits, Kovalainen and Heidfeld also in.

Trulli leads from Raikkonen and Hamilton. Kovalainen was sat there for a long time, problem on the right rear, he’ll lose a lot of places.

L11 – Trulli, Raikkonen and Hamilton now pit – the last to do so.
Wing adjustments.

Trulli beats Hamilton, just. Raikkonen beats the pair of them.

Ted says they don’t need to use the soft tyres now that it has been raining.

Hamilton is behind Vettel, Alonso and Fisichella! Fisi is 7th! GREAT call from him and Force India.

Massa had a big slide at turn one.
Nakajima spun it at turn one, continues.

Hamilton passes Trulli at turn one and spuns, continues. Fisi is hustling Kimi!

L14 – Massa, Vettel(!), Alonso, Kimi, Fisi(!), Hamilton, Glock, Bourdais, Trulli, Heidfeld, Webber, Kovalainen, Barrichello, Button, Rosberg, Sutil, Kubica, Nakajima

Hamilton 6th, if it ends now Massa would win the title on the tiebreak.

Kimi is slow, does he have no pace – or is it deliberate?

L16 – Vettel and ALonso are matching Massa’s lap times. Massa is 0.9s ahead of Vettel, then another 1.1 to Alonso, and live timing has chosen this moment to freeze.

Radio to Vettel, Massa is ten laps longer.

Timing is back.

L18 – Martin notices that Fisi is on the softer rubber, gives more speed but wears out sooner.
Hamilton passes Fisichella on the wet part of the track on dry tyres!

He jumps to hyperspace, he’s practically out of Fisi’s vision already.

McLaren mechanics clapping, very happy.

Sebastien Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race!

The top 5 cars are somewhat faster than the rest of the field. Several cars are now backed up behind Fisichella, costing them time. Glock has cleared Fisichella.
Bourdais is now trying it.

L20 (where is the time going?) – Bourdais alongside, Fisi resists.

Trulli pushes Bourdais off the track at turn 1, he loses 5 places.

Martin: “I don’t know how the stewards will see this one, it’s bordering on rude.”

Vettel has been faster than Massa for two laps now. Factory Ferrari outclassed by customer Ferrari engine. Sebatien waves at Adrian Newey as he goes by (he doesn’t but he should).

L23 – Ad break.
L25 – We’re back. Fisichella now has Trulli and Kovalainen behind him. Heidfeld is catching them.

Vettel sets another fastest lap.

Glock is catching Hamilton by a couple of tenths per lap. Hamilton is 5th and isn’t catching anyone.

L27 – Kovalainen passes Trulli on the front straight.
L28 – Vettel pits. Commentary thinks this may have screwed his day.

Kovalainen sweeps past Fisichella on the main straight, Kovy on a charge. He’s 17sec or so behind Hamilton with only Glock between them.

L29 – Alonso radio: “Vettel was fuelled much shorted than we thought, your race is with Massa.”

Massa is catching a Williams to lap it.
Ted reports that Toyota did NOT fuel Glock when they switched to dries so McLaren’s day will get a little easier.
It gave him a good position but he’ll get the cost of that now.

L31 – Ad break.
L33 – We’re back.

Glock set the fastest lap of the race a lap ago.

Martin: “If Hamilton wants the championship he’s got to get on the programme. He’s matching Massa’s times at last.”

As he says that Massa smashes the fastest lap! Yet we’re still 1.5sec or so off a completely dry lap time. Nobody else is anywhere near Massa’s time.

L34 – Button pits.

L37 – Glock pits. Martin asks James if they can get to the end of the race from here.. James says yes, he thinks they can. It is a very long stop.
He’s out alongside Rosberg in 14th, losing 9 places.
Ted says the fuel nozzle was out of position so they lost a lot time resetting the position.

L38 – Felipe Massa pits. Ferrari’s garage is at pit entry this week so he’s straight in. 9.4sec stop, Martin says he’ll need to come in again.
Fisi and Bourdais are also in.

So Alonso leads, we expect him in over the next couple of laps.

L41 – Alonso is in, so is Hamilton.
We don’t see Alonso rejoin. Both will have to stop again
Hamilton is out ahead of Trulli, he’s now in 6th position.

L42 – Renault tell Alonso that Vettel will stop again.

Martin says the cars don’t all have the same fuel tank size so some cars can go significantly further than others.

L43 – Kovalainen pits. 8.8sec stop.
L44 – Raikkonen pits. 5.1sec stop. Not sure if the clock was wrong there.
James: He’ll only be the champion for another 28 laps.

Raikkonen is out ahead of Hamilton.
Button passes Barrichello for 11th, team-mate pass.

L45 – ad break.
Let’s recap the positions from live timing:

Massa 4.1s ahead of Vettel who will need to stop shortly, then another 3.2 to Alonso, 10.7 to Kimi, 2.7 to Hamilton in 5th, 6.0 to Webber, 10.0 to Kovalainen, then Glock, Trulli, Heidfeld, Button, Barrichello, Rosberg, Bourdais, Kubica, Nakajima (lapped), Fisichella, Sutil.

BMW are having a very flat day. Webber and Nakajima have stopped once, everyone else twice, although obviously the picture could be masked because of the switch to dries.

L47 – we’re back.

L49 – Webber is now in. Hamilton has Kubica on his arse but Robert is a lap behind.
Ted says the fuel consumption is lower than expected because laptimes are slower than they have been in practice. It is changing the fuel strategy.

Vettel is catching Massa again and is just 1.9s behind now. We expect Vettel in but not sure if the others will definitely stop. They may have saved fuel at some of the stops, not pitted on empty.

L52 – Vettel pits. 20 laps go to. Vettel comes out behind Hamilton (and the lapped Kubica).

Kubica is 16th because of the wrong decision on tyres at the start.

L54 – Vettel is 2.2sec behind Hamilton.
Martin is thinking maybe they can all now squeeze the fuel to the end of the race, maybe that’s why laptimes are so much slower.

L55 – ad break.
L57 – we’re back with 15 laps to go, sorry 14 now.
Renault to Alonso: There may be rain soon.

Hamilton has picked his pace up to match Vettel who is now right behind him, 1.0sec.

Kubica radio: Could rain in ten minutes.
Martin says: “Stay tuned, this is a long way from over. 13 laps is about 15 minutes!”
I say this could be Spa all over again!

Kimi is catching Fernando quite quickly, the gap is 3.1 seconds.

L60 – Ted is watching the weather coming in. It will hit the main straight first and may not hit the rest of the circuit.
Eleven laps to go.

Massa grew up around here and hung out at the kart track just over the wall after turn 2. I remember the same thing being said of Barrichello in recent years.

Massa, then Alonso 12.3sec back, then Kimi 1.7sec back from Alonso, Hamilton is 12.2sec behind Kimi.

Alonso laps Bourdais into turn one.

James speculating whether Ron Dennis will step down from his role at McLaren if Lewis wins.
L64 – Radio to Nico Rosberg: “As soon as you seen rain on the visor let us know and we’ll change tyres.”
We’re told there is light rain in the paddock. Nakajima pits. We don’t see it. Did he gamble on wets? He’s at the back with a damaged car from the Coulthard incident, so he may as well.

Positions 11th down have been lapped.

L66 – Raining halfway around the track. Heidfeld takes the gamble he did at Spa.
Barrichello, Button, Rosberg, Bourdais, Fisi all in for inters.
Who whole back of the field has pitted!! It is raining on the main straight.
Vettel attacking Hamilton.

Martin is calling for intermediates for everyone. Ferrari are scrambling for tyres.

Raikkonen is in, Massa did NOT pit. Alonso is in. Hamilton is in with Vettel.

Will Glock and Kovalainen make it to the end without pitting? There are FIVE LAPS to go.

L67 – Massa pits. Getting dark at Interlagos. We can’t see where Hamilton rejoined. Timing hasn’t caught up.

Martin: If it doesn’t rain Hamilton doesn’t get the championship, no Vettel is still behind, he needs to keep Vettel behind him to win it.

L68: Massa, Alonso, Kimi, Glock, Hamilton, Vettel, Trulli, Kovalainen, Webber, Heidfeld (top ten)

If Vettel passes Lewis then it is all over. Hamilton has a lot of traffic.

L69 – Kubica pushes past Vettel! To unlap himself, then gets Lewis.
VETTEL passes Lewis!! Now raining harder.

Can Glock handle the rain on his dry tyres?? Can Hamilton retake Vettel?

Massa has started the last lap. Glock 15sec up on Hamilton.

FINAL LAP

Felipe Massa wins the race! Fuck I can’t type. Lewis passes Glock!!!

Hamilton wins the TITLE!!

Fucking hell how did that happen? Where did Glock come from?

Ferrari celebrated early.

Martin: “To be fair the kid did everthing right.”

Louise with Anthony: “What can I say. I can’t find any words. Great. Absolutely great. It’s a shame the crowd is booing this. We got the championship, now on to the next one.”

James: “We’ve done 206 with ITV and we’ve never seen a race like this, I hope we get to work together again.”
Martin: “Glock lost 18 seconds on the last lap.”

Radio – Massa thanks his team, crying.

Felipe is out of the car.

Fire in the pitlane! Button’s car is alight. Cameras catch up to Hamilton.
He can’t seem to get the steering wheel back on.

Look at the pitlane! Packed with media.

Martin: Thank you to every single person who’s worked on F1-ITV over the last twelve years.

Lewis with his crew at last. Chanting his name.

Straight to the podium, which is lit because of the darkness of the clouds.
Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen.

Brazilian anthem. Flags are raised and look like they’ll blow away!
Italian anthem. Shots of Hamilton with the British flag over his shoulder as Massa on the podium nearly breaks down in tears.

He collects his trophy which looks possibly Klingon.

Martin’s driver of the day: Massa.
Martin’s driver of the year: Hamilton – just.

Ted is with Lewis: “Lewis Hamilton World Champion, how does that feel?” There’s so much media he can’t speak, mic’s in his face, his dad tells everyone to back off let him get a drink. We cut away.
Champagne on the podium.

James and Martin sign off for the last time and we go to an ad break.

ITV have to get out of here because of a new series ripping off High School Musical so they’ll probably whizz through the post-race, even though it is their last.

We’re back with Dave Ryan of McLaren talking to Steve and Mark. “Well you said some champagne, it isn’t going to be some it’ll be heaps. I’ve never experienced anything like it. For a minute we thought ‘not the same thing again’. This is really special. He’s something special. You won’t see me sober again for a while!”

Lewis Hamilton wins this race by one point. Steve says if Massa had won we would have reflected on some strange stewards decicions.

Review of the race.
Hamilton went too wide which let Vettel through.
Mark: “Whatever happened to Glock changed the outcome of the race and the championship, for the better I think.”

Press conference:
Massa – “The race was just perfect. We did everything fantastically. Such difficult weather at the beginning. I’m so proud about the race, the team, the people who support me more than ever, much more than I expected. But then we saw Lewis passing Glock again and that’s a really mixed lot of emotion. Unfortunately we missed [by] one point but that’s racing, we need to be proud about our job, our race, our championship. It’s one more day of my life I’m going to learn a lot.”
ITV cut the conf to go to Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren – “we said to Lewis take it easy, we knew we were racing Glock, we had the GPS so could see him coming back towards us, we kept telling him Glock’s on dries.”

Nobody cares about Fernando and Kimi in the press conf do they? Nah didn’t think so.

To Lewis – “It’s been such a long journey, the team has done such a good job all year. Before it started to rain I was quite comfortable, my tyres were a bit shot, then Vettel got past me and the team told me I had to pass him, then I saw Glock and they said I had to pass him. I crossed the line and was like ‘have I done it have I done it?'”
Anthony interjects – “this is the dream from young kids everywhere. Huge respect to Mr Massa Senior and Junior, fantastic people.”

To Ron Dennis – “That was one hell of a call [on tyres]”. More platitudes.
Is there another Lewis? “We’ve got another couple of young guys we’re looking after. But Lewis is something else.” Wow look at the rain now!!

Steve – “A great way to end our coverage on ITV.”
Mark – “It’ll take a lot to beat us on the other channel but I bet they’ll try.”

Closing montage reviewing the season to the Kings of Leon.

And that’s it, we’re done for 2008.

Goodbye ITV. You gave us a lot of good things, you also sucked enormously in several ways. It will now be for the BBC to see what they can do.

Congratulations Lewis Hamilton, and Ferrari for the Constructors’ title.

Anyone else think Vettel is auditioning for a Ferrari drive?

Race Results
01. Massa 71 laps [10 points]
02. Alonso +13.2s [8]
03. Raikkonen +16.2s over Massa [6]
04. Vettel +38.0s [5]
05. Hamilton +38.9s [4]
06. Glock +44.3s [3]
07. Kovalainen +55.0s [2]
08. Trulli +68.4s [1]
09. Webber +79.6s
10. Heidfeld + 1 lap
11. Kubica + 1 lap
12. Rosberg + 1 lap
13. Button + 1 lap
14. Bourdais + 1 lap
15. Barrichello + 1 lap
16. Sutil + 2 laps
17. Nakajima + 2 laps
18. Fischella + 2 laps
19. Piquet DNF
20. Coulthard DNF

A well-driven race from Massa, Alonso and Vettel. Kubica picked up several spots with the tyre change. Both Glock and Trulli set a 1m44 time on the final lap because they were on dries, everyone else on inters.

Final Points Standings
01. 97 Hamilton *champion*
02. 96 Massa
03. 75 Raikkonen
04. 75 Kubica
05. 61 Alonso
06. 60 Heidfeld
07. 53 Kovalainen
08. 35 Vettel
09. 31 Trulli
10. 25 Glock
11. 21 Webber
12. 19 Piquet
13. 17 Rosberg
14. 11 Barrichello
15. 9 Nakajima
16. 8 Coulthard
17. 4 Bourdais
18. 3 Button
No score: Fisichella, Sutil, Sato and Davidson

Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula One World Drivers’ Champion.

Final Constructors’ Standings
01. 172 Ferrari *champion*
02. 151 McLaren-Mercedes
03. 135 BMW Sauber
04. 80 Renault
05. 56 Toyota
06. 39 STR-Ferrari
07. 29 RBR-Renault
08. 26 Williams-Toyota
09. 14 Honda
10. 0 Force India Ferrari
11. 0 Super-Aguri Honda

Ferrari is the 2008 Formula One World Constructors’ Champion.

Right that’s it for the final live race of the year. I’m off to wait and see what penalty the FIA will dream up for Hamilton, in the meantime the brand new run of Top Gear starts tonight. My next live race which will be the Australian Grand Prix in March, and I’ll have updates throughout the off-season.

Qualifying: Brazilian GP 2008

A change of plans means I’m here for qualifying rather than watching away from home. Golfing in heavy rain is not fun plus its bloody cold outside..

ITV’s coverage started at 3.10pm. Some of their pre-qual show will be repeated before the race and I’ll cover it then.

A group has gathered with Coulthard. Just away from them, Gil de Ferran is talking to Louise, he says DC is one of the best British drivers of all time, or who has ever lived. Ha! No he isn’t!

ITV doing a season recap complete with dramatic music. Maybe I would feel more awake if I’d shaved today. Now they are talking to Jenson – maybe he would have had a better season if he’d shaved that stupid beard away. He says they’ve been working on the 2009 car since last year because they already knew the ’08 car wasn’t very good! Everyone is shooting at ’09 because of the regulation changes.

ITV are showing a recap of their 12 years of covering F1. Unfortunately they are using My Chemical Romance as the backing track. Oh no… they’ve got people from F1 miming the words! Ha! That’s funny AND cringeworthy at the same time. Hopefully someone will put it on YouTube so I can include it here later in the week.

We’re live with commentary now at 3.58pm. Listen to the crowd! Like a football stadium. Only at Interlagos! THIS is why it should stay as the final round of the championship, none of that glossy corporate bullshit here. Abu Dhabi might look great but it won’t have this atmosphere. They are apparently showing shots of Hamilton and Massa on the big screens and getting this reaction.

This is the shortest lap of the season at just over 70 seconds.

Qualifying 1 (20 mins, 20 drivers, any fuel load)
4pm, green light, Piquet is the first car on track.

Piquet sets the first time at 1:13.208.
Barrichello is wearing a differently-coloured helmet this weekend in respect of his mentor, ex driver, some guy from the 70s who I’ve not heard of before.

Massa is on track, crowd go wild! Hamilton leaves the pits.

13 minutes to go and 9 drivers have set a time, Trulli is fastest.

Massa’s first lap puts him 3rd. Kovalainen is 2nd. Raikkonen 6th. Hamilton’s first lap puts him top, just. The top teams may not be using new tyres, they should get through this stage without them but may go again with a set in a minute.

Alonso is on track. As usual the BMWs are leaving it until the last minute.
There’s a spun Toyota causing a yellow at turn one. Glock. You can’t improve your time under yellow so that’ll ruin a few people’s runs.

BMW are out on track as pretty much everyone else pits, so they have a nice clear track. Still they only get 11th and 14th.

5 minutes to go, who is not going to make it?
Rosberg, Coulthard, Fisichella, Bourdais and Sutil so far.

Helmet cam from Coulthard!
Brundle says it needs to be a touch higher so you get the driver’s eye view of peering over the chassis. DC goes 12th.

Massa is going again for some reason, he is 5th and not in danger. Feeling the grip? Changing the car?
Massa goes fastest, there’s a roar from the crowd!

2mins to go, cars are pouring out of the pits for their final run.

Chequered flag, drivers on a lap can complete their run.
Cars are streaming across the line one after the other.

Massa fastest at 1:11.830, then Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso, Glock, Trulli, Piquet, Kovalainen, Heidfeld, Kubica, Vettel, Webber, Bourdais, Barrichello and Coulthard for the top 15.
Knocked out are Nakajima, Button, Rosberg, Fisichella and Sutil.

Both Williams are out! Rubens made it through. Kovy will need to do better if he’s going to be rear-gunner to Hamilton, he’ll be needed to fight off Alonso tomorrow.

ITV have time for a quick ad break and a chat to Mark in the paddock.

Qualifying 2 (15 mins, 15 drivers, any fuel load)
Back to James and Martin, we see Button chatting to a photographer, James says ‘we think he ran out of fuel just a few hundred yards before the pits’. Speculation that Bruno Senna may be at Honda next season.

Green light and both Toyotas are first to jump.
Talk of fuel loads. You have to take a lot of fuel out at this track to have any difference on lap time because of the short lap. Also the teams want to avoid the soft tyre tomorrow.

Meanwhile this is the low-fuel banzai session to make the top ten. Glock sets the first time in 1:12.331.
Massa, Kimi and Lewis are on track. Each take turns as fastest.

Louise with Rosberg, he says they knew they’d have trouble with tyres graining but not that bad.
8mins to go and positions are changing every ten seconds!
Glock goes 3rd. Brundle says something like that is going to happen today, a Glock or Alonso getting up there amongst it, among the title fight.

The track is dry and has been throughout. Rain is expected at some stage tomorrow.

On the bubble at the moment are Bourdais, Kubica, Webber, Coulthard and Barrichello but we’re talking fractions of a second behind the rest of them. This is CLOSE. Anyone could be knocked out. The top 14 are within 1 second of 1st. Kovalainen goes fastest!

McLaren and Ferrari are sending Lewis and Kimi out, Felipe has stayed in. They wouldn’t normally do this but it is so close at this track they can’t take the risk.

Short quiet period as people refuel, change tyres, or are on out-laps. 2 minutes to go.

Kimi stays P5. Hmm. Heidfeld aborts.

VETTEL 2ND!! As the chequered flag waves Sebastian takes 2nd position, amazing. Nobody else is improving on their earlier times.

Bourdais up to P8, knocking out Piquet. Kubica is also out. Hamilton aborted his lap and pitted. Martin suggests he may have just been putting a heat cycle through the tyres.

Kovalainen was fastest on 1:11.768, then Vettel, Hamilton, Massa, Glock, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Bourdais, Alonso and Trulli.
Knocked out were Piquet, Webber, Kubica, Coulthard and Barrichello.

Both RBRs are out and both STRs made it through – again!

ITV take a quick ad break while the top ten add race fuel.
Chat with Coulthard, who is struggling with graining tyres and not happy to be out already. See what he can do tomorrow.

Qualifying 3 (10 mins, 10 drivers, race fuel)
Green light, short pause before Toyota is again the first to jump with Glock.

Martin says this is a rewarding race track, you’ve got to attack it and get it right. It’s narrower than most new tracks and that’s a good thing, it makes the cars look faster and dominate the track.

Glock’s first time is 1:14.311, Vettel smashes that with a 1:13.155. Times are slower because of the extra fuel.

Hamilton and Massa on track at the same time, Massa to cross the line first. He’s quickest in 1:12.453. Hamilton is 3rd in 1:13.252. Massa could be going light to secure pole.
Hamilton has dropped to 6th with other cars improving, he did have a wiggle in turn 2.

The crowd are going crazy! Massa has pitted and is going again. Everyone on their out laps for the final run. Massa will cross the line first, then Hamilton, Kimi and Heikki.

Massa improves to 1:12.368
Hamilton 1:12.830
Kimi 1:12.825 for 2nd
Alonso 5th
Trulli goes 2nd!!
Heikki takes 5th, he improved but not by enough.

Massa in 1:12.368, then Trulli, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Alonso, Vettel, Heidfeld, Bourdais and Glock.

Massa smokes them by half of a second. Hamilton starts alongside Raikkonen, with Alonso directly behind him.
Expect Trulli to pit early tomorrow, probably Massa too. How will that play out if it rains?

Press conf (heavily edited highlights):
Massa – “So nice to be here. We have 73 laps tomorrow which is very long but it is always better to start on pole. I will try to do my best tomorrow to win the race.”
Trulli, Toyota’s first front-row start since 2005 – “I thought I wasn’t going to make it for Friday because I was feeling really bad.” He thanks the engineers and doctor. “I really played my cards during qualifying, saved my tyres. It shows the progress made by Toyota during this season. Our car could be good tomorrow but we need temperature, we need sun!”
Raikkonen – “I did more or less what I was suppose to do. I prefer to be 3rd than 2nd, here it is a good place to start.”

Kimi’s talking about the run to the first corner. You can expect someone to be pushed a long way outside if they are on the right-hand side of the grid – like Hamilton is.

Louise with Lewis, worried about Massa on pole? – “I’m not worried. I just need to bring the car home in the points.” He talks too quickly and I can’t pause live TV so that’s all you’re getting from him.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to David Coulthard as a driver (and maybe Rubens Barrichello), to ITV as British broadcaster of F1, to those stupid grooved tyres, and to decent-looking F1 cars. Next year we will have BBC, slick tyres and crazy wings. I’ll be writing about all of these changes over the coming weeks.

If the atmosphere was this good today, imagine tomorrow! You are NOT going to miss this one.

I’m off to watch Simon Cowell make a fool of himself on X Factor. Enjoy the race!

Brazil – update

Just a few notes on what’s going on down in Brazil at the moment.

Title Decider
F1’s points system runs 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 and Lewis Hamilton has a 7 point lead over Felipe Massa. They are tied on 5 wins apiece.

This is what LEWIS HAMILTON needs in order to win the title:

Finish in the top five (even if Massa wins).
Alternatively: Massa to finish 3rd or lower no matter where Hamilton places.

That’s it. Sounds easy, right? Last year proved it isn’t.

This is what FELIPE MASSA needs in order to win the title:

Finish 1st with Hamilton 6th or worse (tiebreaker on wins per below).
Finish 2nd with Hamilton 8th or worse.
Finishing 3rd will only give him 6 points so won’t cover the existing deficit.

If Hamilton finishes 6th and Massa wins the race it is a tie on points and the title would go to Massa based on number of wins.

It is worth remembering that if they are tied on points and tied on wins the title will be decided on the ‘quality of results’ system. That’s the number of 2nd-place finishes, if it is still a deadlock it goes to # of 3rds, and all the way down until a winner is found.

Ferrari have an 11 point lead over McLaren. For McLaren to win the Constructors’ title they need to outscore Ferrari by 12 points which just isn’t going to happen realistically is it? They do need to keep tabs on BMW who can take 2nd position from them – Kovalainen needs to be on his game as do the two BMW drivers.

My prediction: Massa to win the race, Hamilton to finish on the podium and take the title. It won’t ‘feel’ right if the title-winner isn’t on the podium, always a nice symmetry and he gets to celebrate with the crowd. Ferrari will get the Constructors’ title.

Weather
The forecast for the weekend is for showers, indeed FP2 was held in such conditions. It will rain tomorrow but maybe not during qualifying, though the track may already be wet. Showers are possible during the race on Sunday.

Hamilton is great in the wet and the Mclaren is more suited to it than the Ferrari. The outcome of the title could depend on which Felipe Massa turns up. There’s the guy who was quick in the wet in Monaco, and the guy who threw it away (5 times) at Silverstone. I think the former will appear with this being his home race.

Let’s hope this fight isn’t decided by a Safety Car or a stewards’ decision.

One thing to note if it does rain heavily is that last time it did, in 2003, a large river of water crossed the track after the Senna ‘S’, creating the most expensive parking area for damaged cars in the world. The track has been resurfaced since ’03 so hopefully that won’t happen again.

Check this for a review of ’03 (with crappy music), featuring lots of overtaking, Montoya’s great driving and the two huge crashes which ended the race:

If it rains on Sunday let’s hope we get the great racing without the big crashes!

David Coulthard
This will be David Coulthard’s last Formula 1 Grand Prix. To mark the occasion his car has been painted in the colours of Red Bull’s own charity, Wings For Life. F1 teams are not allowed to run cars in two colour schemes without unanimous agreement from the team bosses (you might remember BAR trying that in 1999 and having to run that ridiculous livery with 555 on one side and Lucky Strike on the other). This time it is all for a good cause as well as DC being a popular paddock figure, so they of course agreed.

David remains with Red Bull as chief test driver and consultant, and a strong persistent rumour since July has been that he’ll join the BBC’s broadcast team in one role or another and will attend each race in that capacity. I look forward to it – he can be funny and outspoken!

Helmet Cam
The Straw Poll column at Autosport.com reports that F1 will be trying out the Helmet Cam this weekend, similar to the one pioneered in Champ Car a few years ago. I remember seeing the view from Paul Tracy at Long Beach and being amazed at the acceleration of the car! I can’t wait to see the F1 version.
Read the whole of that column for Friday (it is daily during F1 weekends) for a brilliant story of the Canadian Formula Una girl’s application for a visa!

I’ll see you for the notes after the race on Sunday, which will be the last race I watch live this season (before I hit my big pile of recordings!).
I’d like to do notes on qualifying to mark the end of season but I’ll have been chasing a little white ball around a golf course. We’ll be rushing back to watch qualifying and it’ll be away from a PC.

Enjoy the race!

Preview: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo, Brazil

The circuit is more widely known as Interlagos, which is the original name of the track and means ‘between the lakes’. It was renamed thirty years ago for a Brazilian driver killed in a plane crash – Pace scored his only F1 win at Interlagos.

Click the link above to see the track layout in the 1970s compared to the layout today. This week you’ll hear the drivers speak of the direction of travel being an issue on their neck muscles. It is rare in Formula 1 to have an anti-clockwise track which I’m sure your average NASCAR or IndyCar driver would find quite funny…
Normally the drivers train for lots of right-handers on a clockwise track, they have to train specifically for this track (and now these days Istanbul as well) which runs the other way, and particularly because of the long, steep uphill left-hander at the end of the circuit, beginning at Junção.

The track itself is notorious for being the bumpiest of the season, something which was largely cured last season after a complete relaying of the asphalt, though many bumps still remained. They may well appear again this year! The facilities in general are not up to scratch per F1 standards, however because it isn’t a European track nobody seems to mind so much. Under an agreement signed in March the GP will remain at Interlagos under the proviso that pit and paddock facilities are improved over the coming years.

There are also frequent crime problems with members of the Toyota team being mugged a few years ago and similar incidents reported from time to time.

The Brazilian GP was often held at the beginning of the year and was the season-opener until 1996 when Melbourne took over, relegating Sau Paulo to 2nd event. In 2004 Brazil was moved to the end of the year, being the season closer every year since except for 2005. In 2009 the new Abu Dhabi circuit is scheduled to be the finale with Interlagos being the preceding event.

Ferrari have walked the last two runnings of this event, however McLaren hold the most wins with 11 to Ferrari’s 9 and Williams’ 6. This is assuming Wikipedia is correct which isn’t guaranteed.

Felipe Massa these days is largely untouchable at his home track so I would expect him to dominate this weekend, however it depends on how his head holds. Lewis Hamilton faces the same problem but more so, since he threw it away last year with a mistake before a gearbox problem ended his race anyway. That sort of thing has got to mess with your head even if only a little bit.
I also expect Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to play a large part in this race, with Robert Kubica and maybe Nick Heidfeld also getting amongst it. The rest won’t be able to live with the pace.

I’ll be back in a day or two with the points break-down and what Lewis and Felipe have to do to win the World Championship.

I think this race is pretty favourable to most people around the world, though maybe not the Antipodeans. That means there’s no excuses, you have to watch this race live alongside f1.com live timing!
(you do need to register for free and have Java installed, I suggest doing so before the weekend)

Qualifying is at 2pm local, 11am US EST, 4pm UK, 5pm CET.

Racing begins at 3pm local, Midday US EST, 5pm UK, 6pm CET. Check your listings because you want to watch the pre-race show, right?

NOTE FOR UK VIEWERS: THIS IS ITV’S LAST F1 BROADCAST
(Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks and Springboks who take James & Martin’s coverage note that you’ll probably get the BBC feed next season)