November 2 marks the anniversary of the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton clinched the first of his seven F1 World Championships.
Or, as it has become known, Is That Glock?! Day, in reference to Martin Brundle’s immortal line when Hamilton passed Timo Glock for the all-important fifth place he needed – on the last corner of the last lap of the last race – to pip Felipe Massa to the title by a single point.
It was one of the most dramatic days in F1 history and arguably stands as the sport’s absolute zenith, such was the raw emotion on show both in victory and defeat. It’s still a big talking point even now….but here are five moments you may have forgotten from that crazy afternoon at Interlagos…
Rob Smedley’s perfect radio message to Felipe Massa
What ever to say to a man with a broken heart, who’s just had his childhood dream snatched away?
Felipe Massa did what he needed to do on the day, taking the win – his final F1 win – from pole position, yet still it wasn’t enough.
As Massa digested his defeat on the cool-down lap, the responsibility fell to race engineer Rob Smedley – the trusty voice in Felipe’s ear throughout his Ferrari career – to console him over team radio.
Somehow in the emotion Smedley found the perfect words and married them with just the right tone to sum up everything Massa had achieved in 2008 – even if the ultimate achievement had passed him by.
“I think you’ve done, well, what I can only say is a very good job,” he said. “Made a lot of friends this year and done a very, very good job.
“Well done, son. Very, very proud of you.”
The Honda era ends in flames for Jenson Button
Jenson Button wasn’t to know it at the time, but Brazil 2008 would prove to be his final race as a factory Honda F1 driver.
The Japanese manufacturer would suddenly announce their immediate withdrawal from the sport a month later amid the global financial crisis, leaving Button, team-mate Rubens Barrichello and the rest of the Brackley team in the lurch.
As the world took in the emotions of Hamilton’s joy and Massa’s despair – congratulations and commiserations all round in parc ferme – a fire raged almost poetically through the engine cover of the car Button had just stroked to a distant, demoralising 13th place.
Who would have thought then that, one year on, he would be stood in almost exactly the same spot celebrating a title triumph of his own?
Departing David Coulthard and his helmet cam
The final round of the season always brings some farewells and it was no different in 2008 as David Coulthard brought the curtain down on an accomplished career.
Coulthard’s last race also brought a couple of firsts as he became the first driver of the modern era to drive with a helmet cam – albeit positioned far too low to be of any real use – and was granted permission to carry a unique one-off, one-driver livery in support of the Wings for Life foundation as team-mate Mark Webber continued in Red Bull’s normal colours.
These nice little touches made it an occasion to remember, but a race to forget as Coulthard was tagged from behind before being collected by Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima at the foot of the Senna S on the opening lap.
“I was gutted,” Coulthard remarked. “That’s not how I wanted to end my F1 career… I had planned to get to the chequered flag and do some donuts for the crowd, but it wasn’t to be.”
Jarno Trulli’s Toyota started on the front row
It was a weekend billed as Hamilton vs Massa, McLaren vs Ferrari. Then Jarno Trulli came along and qualified his Toyota on the front row. How?
This was still in the era of refuelling and a period in which the cars would carry the fuel load with which they qualified into the first stint of the grand prix.
Toyota went on the light side, allowing Trulli to edge ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton to secure second on the grid. He wouldn’t stay there for long, losing several positions with a huge moment on the exit of the Senna S on Lap 12.
Trulli also stayed out on dry tyres when the rain hit at the end of the race but unlike team-mate Glock – and thankfully for Hamilton and McLaren – was out of contention by then, holding on to eighth claim a point.
Heavy rain helped sow the seeds
So, after all the talking, this was it. The stage was set.
Ferrari and McLaren were ready to do battle; Massa and Hamilton were strapped in their cars; Bernie Ecclestone was pacing nervously around the grid.
But – wait! – with just four minutes to go before the formation lap, a huge downpour arrived at Interlagos to turn what had been a bone-dry track into a real-life snakes-and-ladders map waiting to bite at any moment.
With a 10-minute delay announced, every driver on the grid took the opportunity to change to intermediate tyres.
Except one, Robert Kubica, who remained on dries for the formation lap before pitting for inters and committing to a pit-lane start.
And which driver’s attempts to unlap himself in the closing stages caused Hamilton to run wide and concede a place to Sebastian Vettel, sparking possibly the most exhilarating, frantic two-and-a-half laps ever seen in motor racing?
That’s right: Robert Kubica. The seed for that crazy finish was partly sown by the delayed start.