John Watson has suggested the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend will 'go down in the annals of history' as one of the most extraordinary sporting occasions of all time – and praised Lewis Hamilton as 'the rightful world champion' at the end of a thrilling Formula 1 campaign.
Hamilton defeated Felipe Massa by just a single point at the end of the race around Interlagos' Autodromo Carlos Pace, with rain just before the start, again right at the end and a nigh-on unbelievable final few laps – when the Ferrari star won and subsequently lost the title in quick succession – leaving drivers, teams and spectators alike all right on the very edge of their seats.
“I've never seen the likes of it,” five-time grand prix-winner Watson told Crash.net Radio
. “[The rain just before the start] was pretty tough for everybody on the grid. I think the sudden realisation that 'we haven't run in the wet at all this weekend, and now we're going to have to run a car that hasn't got a wet set-up' meant they had to think what to do with the wings and the brake balance and so on and so forth.
“They were very, very difficult circumstances in a normal situation, but particularly for Lewis on the second row of the grid, with on his left Kimi Raikkonen, directly behind him his nemesis Fernando Alonso, and of course Jarno Trulli on the front row as well.
“Lewis needed to be careful; the difficulty that he faced was changing his style from his normal attacking style into something that was much more reserved. That's not really something you want to do very often, because you go against the flow of your normal style of driving.
“He did a good job; he did what he had to do, running in fourth or fifth place pretty much throughout the race. It was only in those last six laps when the rain came on again that the cards were thrown in the air and suddenly it could have been anybody's race.
“Any one of the top six drivers could have fallen off because the rain was unpredictable. It was horrendous; the race was just turned on its head. Up until that point Lewis was safe in fifth place, but when the rain came he struggled in his car, [because] clearly he didn't have the grip.
“One of Lewis' qualities is that he has got the ability to put energy into the car in difficult conditions, but he struggled in Brazil. He was literally hanging on by his finger tips. He was pressing the throttle pedal with such delicacy, because he couldn't afford to have the back end snap away. He had to be so gentle. Everything was a transition from where he would normally like to be.
“Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso was able to get the better of Lewis – another young man at just 20 years of age; it's unbelievable, these kids today – then basically in the penultimate corner [they came across] Timo Glock, who had stayed out on dry tyres thinking 'if I can sneak through I can maybe pick up some points'.