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Bob's Brazil Blog

NEWS STORY
03/11/2008

Wow! What an amazing Grand Prix. You couldn't make it up, could you? I have not missed a Grand Prix in 23 years, and certainly don't remember anything like this Brazilian Grand Prix.

I was cream-crackered at the end of it. As a commentator, you have to examine every detail. Certain things are easier than others. There's a dark car under a darkening sky on your screen. Is that Vettel, Bourdais, Webber? (Not Coulthard, he's already out - sadly.) And there's a McLaren ahead of him. That must be Vettel catching Hamilton, not a sight you're exactly used to. Still, there's a flash of lightning, so who knows?

Now this Toyota that's staggering along. Is that the crippled Trulli, going backwards forever, or is that Glock, and has he made a pit stop for wets, or is that why he's so slow - because he's still on dries? So many questions, so little evidence, until the cars flash across the start/finish line after 71 laps. Massa takes the chequered flag, he's done all he needs to, he's World Champion. But only for 18 seconds. Alonso, Raikkonen, 21s to Vettel - wow, what a job he did - then…. Hamilton, where's Glock? He's taken 14s longer on that last lap than the rest, he's on dries, slid wide, Hamilton goes through, he's World Champion!

Emotional scenes in the pits, brilliantly covered by FOM TV. The swings and roundabouts, emotional roller-coasters, wonderful stuff. Has there ever been anything like this? Mexico 1964, they say. I'm plucking at details there, but it's when Clark blew up on the last lap? Is that right? Sorry if it isn't. I was at Malvern at the time.

I digress. It suddenly goes flat. Even the podium is low key. Massa wins in Brazil. We try to gee it up. He tries to gee it up. Boy would anyone be happy to win their home Grand Prix? There are tears on the podium, but that doesn't help. Alonso's miserable, his old teammate is World Champion, and Kimi is… well, Kimi.

The world's broadcasters don't get to see the man who is being hailed as the new World Champion. He's not on the podium, he doesn't get to the unilaterals, he's not in the press conference. Down at McLaren, where Lewis is finally presented to the press and TV, the word comes back that it's a shambles. People are coming to blows, Lewis is withdrawn for his own safety. "Yes, we've anticipated this scenario that he might not be in the unilaterals," says McLaren's media team, who then reveal a total inability to cope.

At least, they say, there isn't a protest. The result stands, Lewis is World Champion, or will be when he's hailed as that in early December. This is a throw-back to the days of Jean-Marie Balestre who never acknowledged the World Champion until he was crowned at the FIA prize-giving. I'm not the best person to talk about this, but suffice it to say that my media colleagues are up in arms. Letters will be sent.

So how did we get here, on this crazy, crazy weekend. 11.30 on Sunday morning, three and a half hours to go and there are bagpipes in the pit lane, dark clouds are gathering, the wind is getting up and Porsches are racing at Interlagos. I'm more interested in my son's debut racing a Ginetta at Silverstone. This is just a snapshot of a surreal Brazilian Grand Prix, just another moment in time from Planet Paddock.

We've been here for three days, arriving at the circuit - just - straight from the airport, straight into Thursday morning's press conference with a fine variety of drivers. There was a slightly downbeat Lewis Hamilton, perhaps not wanting to explain, yet again, his feelings coming into this race, and failing to answer my point about the conflict of interests between 'only' having to finish fifth to clinch the Drivers' title and trying to win the Constructors' championship.

Then there was Nelson Piquet, surprisingly chatty given that he's usually so shy - even Flavio Briatore sometimes inquires of Nelson if there has been a death in the family. Felipe Massa was as chatty as ever, happy to explain his situation. And then there were the old hands, Rubens Barrichello still hoping to hang on as a Grand Prix driver, David Coulthard in his last Grand Prix.

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