Felipe Massa has won his home race at Interlagos in Brazil, leading Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso over the line, with Jenson Button taking third place in an exciting, memorable and emotional Brazilian Grand Prix.
The scenes of shear pleasure that exuded from Massa as he jumped on his mechanics in Parc Ferme will remain with the 25 year old Ferrari driver for as long as he lives. Massa drove a sublime race that saw him lead from pole position to chequered flag. His dominance of the Interlagos circuit was reminiscent of his team mates career, as Michael Schumacher made his final charge in a Formula One car. Fernando Alonso has become the youngest back-to-back World Champion and takes with him the coveted Number One to McLaren, and the knowledge that he has, once again, beaten Schumacher in a straight fight.
The race was one that, although may have led to slight anti-climax at its finale, will certainly be remembered for many reasons. Massa’s brilliant victory, Jenson clawing his way back from 14th on the grid to finish 3rd. A truly memorising and inspiring drive from Michael Schumacher. Lots of overtaking. Lots of cheers. Lots of tears. And lots to talk about.
Felipe Massa led from the start line through turn one, and everybody pretty much remained in position as the field charged down the hill. Michael Schumacher gained a place or two, but quickly all eyes were on the Williams pair – Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg – as one clouted the other. Webber retired on the spot, and Rosberg managed to continue until he eventually lost control and hit the wall hard, confirming the end of his race.
By lap two, Schumacher was clearly on a charge and had a very good car under him. When the safety car came out while Rosberg’s Williams was being recovered, the seven times World Champion was in seventh. The race was on, most definitely. With Schumacher behind Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella, the safety car came in and Michael set about passing the Roman. At turn one on lap 9, Michael made his move and Fisichella didn’t make it easy. Michael managed his way pass, but debris from the start of the race caused a left-rear puncture on the Ferrari. Some excellent car control stopped Michael running off the track, but this put an end to any chance Michael had of going out in a blaze of glory. The German had to negotiate another entire lap of the circuit before finally entering the pitlane. Surely, it was over?
Well, I wouldn’t bet against Schumacher, not even in his final race. And the drive that followed Michael’s unscheduled pit stop was absolutely stunning. When he rejoined the track, he was in 20th and last place. As Michael rejoined the race on lap twelve, both Toyota’s pealed into the pits and retired with identical failures on each car. This is something that made BMW happy as they were now assured to beat them to fifth in the Constructors race. Unfortunately though, after a strong performance in practice and qualifying, the BMW’s just went backwards in the race. Heidfeld retired close to the end, and Kubica could only manage 9th. Fifth in the Constructors race is nothing to be disappointed at though, and BMW have done well this year, despite all the ups and downs!
Massa continued to extend his gap over second place driver Kimi Raikkonen, and by lap 18 had a ten second cushion over his 2007 team mate. The first round of pit stops shook everything up for a while, but one thing that remained constant was Michael Schumacher’s charge through the field, and by lap 33 he was up to tenth place. The German driver was on the limit, and made a couple of errors during the course of this comeback. Nothing serious though, and nothing a slow tip-toe around the outside of a corner didn’t heal. However, a series of fastest laps complimented the fastest laps posted by his young team mate Felipe Massa, who was enjoying the lead of his home race and in front of his adoring home fans.
On lap 63, Schumacher was up to 6th and piling the pressure once again on Renault’s number two, Fisichella. Alonso was in second after outwitting McLaren in the pit stops, and was behind a resurgent Button in 4th. Fisichella out braked himself into turn one though, and Schumacher sailed by. Schumacher’s charge continued and he managed to pass Raikkonen who also made it difficult for the retiring driver. But Michael couldn’t make any more headway before Massa completed his final lap to win his home race. Fernando became World Champion and Michael Schumacher finished 4th.
An exhilirating race that saw fantastic drives from the past and the future of Formula One champions. It doesn’t get much better than that…