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Hamilton heartache and Massa misery in Brazilian thriller

NEWS STORY
02/11/2008

Whatever the outcome of today's race at Interlagos, make the most of it, for its all change in F1 from here on.

Next time you see F1 cars racing in anger they'll look and be a lot different, out go most of the aerodynamic add-ons and out go grooved tyres. OK, we're all happy to welcome back slicks, however, we will also have put up with KERS and various other devices (gimmicks?) aimed at making the sport greener and ultimately cheaper.

Make the most too of the unique atmosphere at Interlagos today, the partisan crowd cheering its hero and booing the opposition. Listen to the air-horns, hear the cheers watch the flags wave - even if, as predicted, the heavens let rip.

Next season the championship signs off in Abu Dhabi as another cash rich government pays FOM whatever is needed to become part of the F1 dream. The circuit will look the business, everyone will fall over themselves to tell you that this is the future - until the next new track is unveiled - but try to find the passion.

There are several factors to consider as we go into today's championship decider, not least the weather, but more of that later.

First off, it should be noted that a number of drivers are using their engines for the second successive race. In addition to Heidfeld, the Williams and Red Bull duo, not to mention Adrian Sutil, it should be noted that Lewis Hamilton is running the engine that he used in China. Whereas, Felipe Massa has a nice new Ferrari powerplant in the back of the F2008.

Note also that the first corner - or series of corners - (re)named in honour of the legendary Ayrton Senna, has witnessed more than its share of incidents over the years. For as long as we can remember, drivers have come to grief here, from Michael Andretti to Michael Schumacher.

While Felipe Massa has to win today, or at the very least finish second, everything else will depend on Lewis Hamilton, who merely has to bring the car home in the top five. However, as we are all well aware, this was virtually the same scenario last season, and we all remember what happened. In 2008, as in 2007, the title is Hamilton's to lose. While he is an out-and-out racer, he would be best advised to saved his racer's instincts for another day and settle for a softly-softly approach this afternoon.

All credit to Jarno Trulli for his magnificent qualifying lap, however, unless the heaves do open up, the Italian is likely to be filling his usual role as high-speed chicane this afternoon.

While Massa has looked good all weekend, teammate Raikkonen has been struggling, as he has for much of the season. The Finn knows what he has to do today, thing is, will he do it, can he do it? Then again, with an eye on the weather, we know how bad the Ferraris have been in the wet this year, who will ever forget Silverstone or Spa?

Today, more than ever, Heikki Kovalainen needs to raise his game, both in terms of assisting his teammate's cause and also that of his team, if it is to snatch the Constructors' Championship from Ferrari. While the Finn has had more than his fair share of bad luck this season, not forgetting the fact that the team have used him as a guinea pig for much of the year, Heikki hasn't always helped himself. Now is the perfect time to step up to the plate.

Whatever the weather, we expect to see another strong performance from Fernando Alonso, who will be keen to sign off the season in style. Talk elsewhere of him nerfing off his former McLaren teammate are not worthy of comment, no, he will not make things easy for Hamilton, but nor do we expect anything silly.

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