Hamilton becomes youngest F1 champion

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton today became the youngest ever Formula One world champion.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton today became the youngest ever Formula One world champion.

Hamilton, 23, secured victory when he finished the Brazilian Grand Prix in fifth place.

The McLaren driver went into the race with a seven point lead over his nearest rival, Ferrari Felipe Massa and needed to finish in fifth place or above to take the title.

Hamilton's last minute victory was greeted with boos from the crowd.

His father Anthony was left almost speechless but managed to tell reporters: “I really can’t find the words. It’s great, absolutely great.

“It’s a shame the crowd is doing this. They should be fair sportsmen.”

Hamilton only secured victory in the final minutes.

He had held a strong position enough to take the title for most of the race but slipped back towards the end.

After Massa – Hamilton’s only title challenger – passed the finish line in first, the crowd held its breath to see if Hamilton would scrape fifth.

Anything less would have risked the title slipping through his fingers for the second year running.

After the race, Hamilton told reporters: “It’s amazing. I need to get my breath back.”

His father added: “He needs a drink.”

Hamilton said: ``It is pretty impossible to put it into words. I'm so speechless.

“It has been such a long journey with a lot of support back home. I am so thrilled to be able to do this for everyone.”

He added: “Before it started to rain I felt quite comfortable,” but added that when he realised he had fallen into sixth place, “I couldn’t believe it.”

“I can only thank God. I was trying my hardest to get past. It was one of the toughest races of my life.”

He said that as he passed the finish line he still did not know if he had won. When he heard the confirmation he said: “I was ecstatic.”

It was “a dream” to repay the faith that McLaren had shown in him from such a young age.

Massa, who was racing on home soil, looked close to tears as he took to the winner's podium to celebrate winning the race but losing the title by only a single point.

At the post-race press conference, Massa wiped his eyes as he said: “It’s really an emotional day for me.

“You get here. You’ve almost done everything perfectly but I saw Lewis passing (Timo) Glock and that really mixed a lot of emotions.

“We finished in the front. We have to be proud of that. I know how to win and I know how to lose.”

Hamilton is the first Briton to take the world championship since Damon Hill in 1996.

He joins an illustrious list of racing greats, including British drivers Nigel Mansell, James Hunt, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, John Surtees and Mike Hawthorn.

Last year Hamilton went to Sao Paolo’s Interlagos circuit leading the championship.

But his dream of being the first driver to take the title in his rookie season was left in shreds.

Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen beat Hamilton to the title by a single point.

Although Hamilton's 2008 season has been plagued by errors he managed five wins from 17 races.

Today’s Grand Prix was delayed by 10 minutes after a sudden downpour just minutes before the 5pm (Irish time) start time.

There was drama from the start with Scottish driver David Coulthard, 37, crashing out after just 300 metres in the final grand prix of his 15-season career.

Hamilton dropped from fourth to seventh after the first pit stop but he clawed his way back into title contention as his girlfriend Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger jumped up and down with delight.

He fell back again during the final laps but passed the German driver and squeaked into fifth in a nail-biting finish.

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