SAO PAULO, Brazil -- McLaren's Lewis Hamilton roared
into the record books as Formula One's youngest champion on
Sunday when he snatched the title in last-lap drama at the
Brazilian Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old, needing only a fifth-place finish in the
season-ending race to become Britain's first champion since
Damon Hill in 1996, was seconds from failure for the second year
in a row as Ferrari rival Felipe Massa swept to victory.
Hamilton entered the last lap in sixth place after a late
shower forced a change to wet weather tires and saw Sebastian
Vettel's Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso overtake the McLaren.
With the title disappearing as fast as Massa's Ferrari
approached the checkered flag, Hamilton had Toyota's Timo Glock
to thank after the German stayed out on dry tires and was unable
to hold on to his fifth place.
Hamilton powered past as the final corner approached.
"Amazing, I can't even get my breath back," said the
astonished Briton, who embraced his father and brother before
being mobbed by the team.
Massa, Hamilton's sole title rival, won his home race for
the second time in three years to chalk up a record 16th
constructors' title for the Italian team.
Hamilton, who missed out by a single point to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in Brazil last season, ended the 18-race season one
point clear of Massa.
"He scored more points than me, he deserves to win the
title," said the disappointed race winner. "I know how to win, I
know how to lose.
"This is another day of my life that I'm going to learn a lot
At 23 years and 301 days old, Hamilton broke the age record
set by former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard
who won the first of his two titles with Renault in Brazil at
the age of 24, one month and 27 days.
Hamilton's title was the first for Mercedes-powered McLaren
since Finland's Mika Hakkinen in 1999.
Massa, the first driver since Alain Prost in 1989 to miss
out on the title after winning more races than anyone else, led
from pole position after a start delayed for 10 minutes by a
sudden downpour while the cars were waiting on the grid.
The safety car was then deployed for two laps after a
collision that sent Britain's David Coulthard crashing into
retirement after 15 seasons in Formula One.
The Scot's Red Bull tangled with the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima and Renault's Nelson Piquet, who was also eliminated
from the race.
Alonso took second place in the race, with Raikkonen joining
him on the podium to seize third place overall from BMW-Sauber's
Robert Kubica on race wins.