Although the Drivers' title was snatched from Massa when he had already crossed the finish line, the teamwork demonstrated by Maranello's Scuderia drivers let Ferrari take home its 16th Constructors' title
The 2008 season of Formula 1 was defined by the much-anticipated duel between Ferrari and Mercedes. Everyone expected a repeat of the battle between Räikkönen and Hamilton, who, behind the wheel of his McLaren, forced Fernando Alonso to return to Renault. Meanwhile, Ferrari confirmed that Felipe Massa will be racing alongside the Finnish world champion.
Hamilton and Räikkönen were both victorious in Australia and Malaysia, while for Massa, the start of the Championship was best forgotten, as he gained no ground. However, the Brazilian made up for it in Bahrain and Turkey, while Räikkönen wins in Spain. After five races, the Ferrari drivers were in first and second place in the rankings, but while Hamilton triumphed in Monaco, he had a mad race in Canada. McLaren's British driver failed to notice the red light at the end of the pit lane and took out Kimi's Ferrari, putting an end to both their races. Robert Kubica won with the BMW Sauber, going on to take the lead in the Championship.
Massa triumphed in France, while Hamilton took the race on home turf in Silverstone, leaving the ranking tighter than ever. The Brit, Massa and Räikkönen were in the lead with 48 points, followed by Kubica with 46. McLaren won in Germany while Felipe seemed to be headed for success in Hungary, after performing a fantastic overtake of Hamilton. However, a cruel twist of fate struck three laps from the finish, when Massa's engine failed. Kovalainen took advantage of this, and won the only victory of his career so far. The Brazilian redeemed himself in Valencia in the European GP, as well as in Belgium, at the end of a lengthy duel with Hamilton.
Monza was the second mad race of the season. On the Saturday, the young German driver Sebastian Vettel took a surprising pole position at the wheel of a Toro Rosso with a Ferrari engine. Everyone put this success down to a simple stroke of luck due to the rain, but the sodden conditions aside, the race showed that Sebastian had real talent: For the first – and so far only – time, a non-Ferrari car equipped with a Ferrari engine was victorious. Massa and Hamilton are both doomed to a dull race, although the latter is now destined to compete for the World Title, with the Brazilian driver is one point behind his British rival.
In Singapore, Felipe's season was marred by his second major negative episode. The Brazilian returned to the pit, taking advantage of the safety car brought in after by Nelsinho Piquet's accident (which later turned out to be intentional), but he made the mistake of pulling away when the fuelling nozzle was still attached to his F2008. For the Brazilian, who was in the lead, this spelt the end of the race. The last date of the season arrived in Interlagos, with Felipe seven points behind Hamilton. Räikkönen had closed the same gap between him and the Brit the year before, but repeating such a miracle two seasons in a row seemed unlikely. The situation in the Constructors' rankings was of less concern for Ferrari, who held an 11-point lead over McLaren.
At the start of the race, Massa took first position on a damp but drying track. Behind him, however, Hamilton's afternoon was shaping up to be a little more complicated; he ended up off the track after a failed attempt to overtake, and dropped to seventh place. If Felipe was going to win, Lewis would need fifth place. At the 43rd lap, the Brit recovered the ground he needed, and Massa's efforts appeared futile. In the final, however, the rain returned, and the positions were shuffled. All of the cars bar the two Toyotas stopped, with the latter trying to stay on the track with dry tyres.
At three laps from the end, Massa was in the lead, and Hamilton only in sixth. Felipe passed under the chequered flag, to the screams of the cheering Brazilian supporters. At that moment, he became World Champion. Meanwhile, Hamilton had not given up the fight, and aided by the increasingly heavy rain, he managed to overtake Timo Glock's Toyota on the last corner of the last lap, winning the title by one point. Felipe wept and beat his fist on his chest, his tears mixing with the pouring rain. He was defeated, but not in the eyes of his Brazilian fans, who gave him an ovation worthy of the legendary Ayrton Senna. Ferrari consoled itself with the 16th Constructors' title in its history.