Ferrari's team principal Stefano Domenicali has reflected on the 2008 Formula One season by praising the strides made by title contender Felipe Massa, who fell 18 seconds short of clinching a title double for the Scuderia at Interlagos.

With an eighth constructors' championship already in the bag as Massa and Kimi Raikkonen raced to a 1-3 finish in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, all attention in the Ferrari pit was focused on whether there would be enough separation between the winner and Lewis Hamilton, who needed just fifth place to take the title back to McLaren.

At the start of the 71st, and final, lap, the Briton was sixth but, in a dramatic finale, managed to regain a top five spot by passing Timo Glock at the last corner. While some sections of the garage - and most of the partisan Sao Paolo crowd - was mistakenly celebrating, Domenicali had his head buried in calculations.

"To be honest, I knew that, in that moment, you can be too emotional and not rational, so I had a document checking off 'what happens if' scenarios," he revealed, "I was checking, okay first, second, third, fourth - still champion. And then I saw Lewis fifth, and I said 'okay, it is not done'."

"It was an incredible end to the season and, once again, I think we have to be proud of what we have done," he continued magnanimously, "There is no reason for us to look back and say 'what if, what if'. With what ifs you can build the world.

"I went [to McLaren] to congratulate [Hamilton] because, in sport, that is the way it has to be. I went there, I did my job, and I think it is correct. At the end of the day, he won by one point and it means that he was better by one point. He is a world champion.

"The only thing I can say is that we are extremely happy with the achievement we have done today on the constructors' championship. In eight of the last ten years, we were champions. It is something only Ferrari has done, so I am very proud of the team, and all of the guys - here in Brazil and those at home. For us, it is a great achievement."

Domenicali was particularly praising of Massa who, having had his contract extension scoffed at and rumoured to be walking a tightrope after failing to score in either of the opening rounds of 2008, came within a point of winning the drivers' championship.

"I am very happy for Felipe," Domenicali said, "He did an incredible season, and no-one in the beginning could have said something like that.

"This year, he did two races that will remain in the history of his growing career. One was Hungary, where unfortunately we had a problem, but he was really fantastic. And there was today, [where he showed] great maturity. I saw in him a great serenity because he did the maximum. That was really a great day today."

Emerging from the shadow cast by reigning world champion Raikkonen and establishing himself as the team's number one, for this season at least, Domenicali believes that Massa has grown as a grand prix driver through the 2008 campaign.

"I think that Felipe has matured a lot," he confirmed, "He is really a great driver now. He's done a lot of pole positions so, over a single lap, he is already on the top. Now he has grown significantly in performance lap by lap, and the consistency of that, and in the mixed conditions [at Interlagos], with the pressure where you don't know where you are going, it shows a lot. I think, within these kind of races, you can see how he will go ahead. From this victory lost, you can be strong inside and that will be the case for him."

Ferrari now faces an intriguing prospect for 2009, with Massa at the top of his game and Raikkonen, after a lacklustre middle part to his title defence, keen to return to the front and justify the contract extension he was handed in the midst of rumours linking Fernando Alonso to his seat at Maranello.

"I am very proud to have Felipe in our team, because that is the way that we should look ahead for our future," Domenicali commented, "I think, [for Raikkonen], this year was a difficult year. But he is happy because we won together as a team - and he is looking forward to starting again because, for sure, this is not the [sort of season] that he knows. A lot of people were talking last season about Valentino Rossi being finished this year, and he has actually done a lot, so I am expecting the same kind of approach [from Raikkonen] in 2009.

"For Felipe to lose the championship by one point, I know it can hurt. We are still very hot after the end of racing, but you can be sure that, after a couple of days, we will be fully committed for next season. I think that, as always, with 'what ifs' you win every time. We have to take the negative points of this year in order to improve and to change the things that didn't go well. But in a very cool way, rational.

"I am very proud of what we achieved, very proud, and I would like to stress one point that I am very proud of - the fact that all the people who are part of this team share the same values, the same passion, the same philosophy. They are all honest people and are all proud to work for this great team. And I have the honour and the privilege to be their boss."