In 2008, the Brazilian Grand Prix was the 18th and closing race of the season and, in concept, ought to have been a victory procession for the Briton who wanted solely to complete fifth.
It turned out to be something however and is now remembered as an enthralling, nail-biting title decider.
“I simply obtained a chill up my backbone as a result of it was an incredible expertise,” Hamilton later informed CNN as he mirrored on that first title win.
A late tropical deluge delayed the beginning of the race and set the scene for an end result so dramatic, even Hollywood’s finest script writers would have struggled to think about it.
From last-lap drama to web conspiracy theories, it was the race that produced all the pieces.
“Unquestionably essentially the most dramatic (of Hamilton’s wins), he did not know he was world champion till the final quarter of a mile,” F1 writer Maurice Hamilton tells CNN.
“It was arguably probably the most dramatic finales to any world championship … I can by no means bear in mind one as dramatic as that. Up till the final lap you did not know which means it was going to go.
“It is within the high two or three of essentially the most superb grands prix I’ve seen.”
Hamilton boasted a seven-point lead over Ferrari’s Felipe Massa heading into the race at Interlagos, however recollections of the earlier yr’s capitulation had been very a lot nonetheless on the forefront of his thoughts.
Simply 12 months earlier, Hamilton once more led the drivers’ championship going into the ultimate race — 4 factors forward of McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso and 7 forward of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
After the McLaren pair virtually took one another out on lap one, Hamilton went on to endure automotive issues and the “Iceman” was in a position to snatch the title in his first season at Ferrari.
“The occasions in 2007 made him (Lewis) very nervous, no query,” stated Maurice Hamilton.
“They need to have received that championship and since Hamilton and Alonso had been at every others’ throats, they completed joint second and Kimi got here by means of the center and took it.
“The staff had been very nervous. I am certain it will have been taking part in on his thoughts, he did admit on the final lap he was a whole bag of nerves and driving on adrenaline.”
In 2008, Massa certified on pole with Hamilton fourth and the opening 63 laps handed largely with out incident for the 2 essential protagonists.
Because the skies cleared and the observe dried, each driver within the area switched to dry tires.
Hamilton bounced between fourth and fifth, each positions ok to win him the title, whereas a faultless Massa led all through.
Simply because it was trying like Hamilton would cruise by means of the ultimate eight laps, black rainclouds once more started to loom menacingly overhead.
The rain was mild at first, little quite a lot of spots, however simply two laps later it was coming down arduous sufficient to persuade McLaren that Hamilton wanted to pit for the wet-weather tires.
By lap 66, each automotive had pitted to make the identical modifications — besides two.
Toyota had determined to maintain its two drivers, Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, on dry tires and saved their fingers crossed the rain held off sufficient for them to not lose the time gained from selecting to not pit.
The choice initially proved successful for Toyota as Glock rose from seventh to fourth and left Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel preventing it out for fifth.
The younger German — at the moment driving for Toro Rosso — was all around the again of Hamilton’s McLaren.
‘I solely prayed’
Seemingly out of nowhere, Polish driver Robert Kubica unlapped himself on the within of the ultimate activate lap 68.
Shaken by the shock overtake, Hamilton took a large path that allowed Sebastian Vettel previous. Hastily, the 2008 world championship was in Massa’s fingers.
“Effectively I by no means surrender, so I saved pushing,” Lewis Hamilton informed CNN quickly after the race. “Proper till I obtained to the road and up till the second to final lap I used to be world champion just about.
“Nevertheless it’s by no means over till it is over after which I misplaced place. I solely prayed that I may get it again and I could not catch this man (Vettel) and I obtained to show 10 of 12 on the final lap and I hadn’t overtaken him.”
On the ultimate lap, with time and observe quickly operating out, it appeared all of Hamilton’s prayers had been answered. The heavens opened, making is nearly unimaginable for Glock to seek out any grip on dry tires.
Out in entrance, virtually 30 seconds forward of the unfolding drama, Massa had taken the checkered flag with a flawless drive on house soil.
His Ferrari storage celebrated wildly, as did tens of 1000’s of followers within the grandstand who thought they had been celebrating the primary Brazilian world champion since Ayrton Senna.
However on the 71st and closing lap, with the observe now sodden after the torrential downpour, Glock had slowed a lot each Vettel and Hamilton had been in a position to make up a 15-second deficit.
“He (Lewis) did not know what was happening,” Maurice Hamilton stated. “The staff had been shouting at him that he needed to attempt to catch Glock and he did not know what they had been speaking about.
“He had been attempting to get previous Vettel, that was his focus. All that is panning out in entrance of him and he is attempting to maintain the automotive on the street as a result of it is moist.”
With only one nook remaining, Hamilton edged his well beyond on the within of Glock, who by this level was struggling to only preserve the automotive on the observe.
“I wasn’t shut sufficient to get him (Vettel) by flip 12,” Lewis Hamilton recalled.
“It simply so occurred that it was moist, one other man was going very sluggish and I managed to get previous him,” he stated, pausing briefly as if to relive that second.
The conclusion of what had occurred regularly permeated by means of a jubilant Ferrari storage, inflicting one mechanic — in now notorious tv scenes — to smash his head towards the wall in anger.
Because the unhappy actuality lastly set in for the staff, the group and Massa’s household, the McLaren storage spilled out onto the pit lane to have fun with Hamilton.
“It was vastly dramatic and will have gone both means,” Maurice Hamilton says. “If the bathe of rain had come a minute later, he would not have been world champion, Massa would have received and he would not have handed Timo Glock.
“It hinges on particulars like that … there was nothing like that since, even in his fights with (Nico) Rosberg and the others there’s by no means been something as dramatic as that.
“I do not suppose many world champions will inform you that they had a finale like that.”
Within the rapid aftermath, a confused Glock swatted away questions within the combined zone suggesting he had intentionally allowed Hamilton to go.
The pair had been buddies coming by means of the ranks in GP2 and that solely served to gas conspiracy theories that Glock moved apart for Hamilton to win the title, although they’re allegations the German has refuted on a number of events.
“It is throughout us once more … it is 10 years in the past and it appears it is larger than ever. Tons, plenty of Suggestions … at the least not all adverse,” Glock posted on Instagram earlier this month.
“Nonetheless as a bit of reminder for many who nonetheless suppose I did it on goal (nonetheless some on the market) … there may be the on-board of the entire final lap on YouTube. Not less than you may see the difficulties I confronted! Take pleasure in ….”
In what was undoubtedly essentially the most brutal second of his profession, Massa remained gracious in defeat and earned common reward for the best way he carried out himself after the race.
Tears crammed his eyes as he stood atop the rostrum, proud however heartbroken.
“That was so spectacular,” Maurice Hamilton stated. “To suppose for a couple of minute that you just’re world champion at house with all that emotion, you have received the race and finished all the pieces you may.
“He drove a superb race, faultless after which to have that occur on the finish — he was very, very dignified. It was fairly emotional on the rostrum, it will need to have been very, very powerful to take.
“You do not usually see that and it was an amazing show of sportsmanship contemplating the horrible disappointment … and naturally he would by no means get his probability once more.”
Certainly that will be the closest Massa ever obtained to profitable a world title and he retired from the game in 2017, the identical yr Hamilton collected the fourth of his 5 championship wins.
The 33-year-old has by no means been pushed so shut in any of his subsequent victories, and followers could also be left ready some time longer to witness one other grand prix as dramatic as Brazil 2008.