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Critical errors - the mistakes that could decide the title 30 Oct 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 retired from the race and Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30 hit him at the end of the pit lane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 8 June 2008 Massa sliding into the barrier resulting in a nosecone replacement Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008 passes his team mate Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008, who is recovering from a spin.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 6 July 2008 Hamilton takes to the air off the back of the  Renault Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 collides with Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Sunday, 12 October 2008

To win a world championship you invariably have to win races, something Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa have each achieved five times thus far this season. You also have to be error free, or very close to it. A driver can make no more than one mistake in winning the title, or so the old saying goes.

This year it’s different. Both men have made several blunders, and when the dust settles in Brazil next Sunday it is these moments that will leave the runner-up wondering just which was the one that cost him the crown. We take a look back at Lewis’s lapses and Felipe’s faux pas…

Australia:
Massa’s
2008 campaign gets off to the worst possible start when he spins on the opening lap at Albert Park. He then collides with David Coulthard during a failed passing attempt on the Scot’s Red Bull before retiring with engine failure.

Malaysia:
Things go from bad to worse for Massa in Sepang when, having started from pole, he again spins himself out of contention barely halfway through the race.

Bahrain:
Hamilton
blows it when he selects the wrong start procedure on the grid and activates his car’s anti-stall mechanism at the wrong moment. Running into the back of Fernando Alonso on lap two compounds the error and he finishes 13th.

Monaco:
A lucky escape for Hamilton, who picks up a puncture after swiping the barriers on lap six. The team switch him to a one-stop strategy as a result, which ironically helps him to win the race.

Canada:
Hamilton
goes from hero to zero when his race ends in near-comedic scenes in the Montreal pit lane. Failing to see the red light, he runs into the rear of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, putting both men out of the race and earning him a 10-place grid penalty for the following French round.

France:
Eager to compensate for his grid penalty, Hamilton straight-lines the chicane as he completes an early pass on Sebastian Vettel. The stewards deem the move illegal, handing him a drive-through penalty, and he comes home 10th.

Great Britain:
Both Massa and his tyres fail to get to grips with the tricky conditions at a rain-hit Silverstone. He trails home 13th and last after surviving five spins.

Belgium:
Twenty-five seconds are added to Hamilton’s race time after he goes straight across the chicane just prior to passing race leader Raikkonen. He briefly surrenders the place, but not to the stewards’ satisfaction and he drops from first to third as a result, with Massa inheriting the win.

Italy:
Hamilton
gambles on standard wet tyres at the start of Q2, but when the rain worsens he is left stranded, just 15th on the grid. The race sees him recover to seventh.

Japan:
Polesitter Hamilton out-brakes himself into Turn One, running Raikkonen off the road. A drive-through penalty is the consequence. Massa is handed an identical punishment for tipping Hamilton into a spin at the chicane while trying to pass his rival.

A quick count-up reveals it is Massa who has made the fewer unforced errors, yet Hamilton still leads the standings. Part of the answer lies with the Ferrari team and their F2008. Its engine let Massa down not only in Australia, but also in Hungary - Hamilton has suffered no mechanical failures. And then there was Ferrari’s botched Singapore pit stop, which, through no fault of his own, saw Massa exit the box with fuel hose still attached. Race ruined, he finished 13th.

Will another critical error affect next weekend’s Interlagos race? Massa will have to hope so - and that it’s Hamilton who comes unstuck. Reliability issues aside, it’s probably the Brazilian’s best chance of becoming champion…