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Heartbroken Massa gracious in defeat 02 Nov 2008

Race winner Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 2 November 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 2 November 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 2 November 2008. © Sutton

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa put in the drive of his life at Interlagos on Sunday, doing everything within his power to become 2008 world champion. And as he took the chequered flag he, his team and his family all thought he had done it.

But jubilation rapidly turned to disbelief as just seconds later title rival Lewis Hamilton passed the Toyota of Timo Glock at the final corner to clinch the fifth place he needed to snatch the drivers’ crown from Massa’s grasp. The Brazilian knew how close he had come, but had nothing but praise for the McLaren driver.

"It was an exciting day,” he said. “We did everything to perfection and we almost managed to pull it off. Then, as I crossed the line, (race engineer) Rob (Smedley) told me that Hamilton had finished fifth and therefore he took the title by one point. Sport is like this and one has to accept that. Congratulations to Lewis: whoever gets the most points deserves the title.”

Massa’s only consolation was a magnificent home win, and the knowledge that he and team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third, had done enough to guarantee Ferrari the constructors’ championship.

“I am very proud of the whole team and how much support they have given me during this fantastic season,” he said. “Now we must be happy with what have done, namely bringing home the constructors' title which I know is so important for the team.

“It was a season of highs and lows and we have learned a lot, from the good moments and from our mistakes. I can leave Interlagos with my head held high because once again I have won in front of my home crowd and because this is an unforgettable day. Now I want to celebrate with my family, my friends and my team. We deserve it!"

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali paid tribute to Massa, commenting: “Felipe has grown so much, year after year, demonstrating his talent and personality, answering his critics with his driving and with his mind. He has had an amazing season and would have deserved the title. That's sport, it can sometimes be cruel.”