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Hamilton wins F1 title in thrilling finish

Hamilton wins F1 title in thrilling finish

Lewis Hamilton of McLaren became Formula One's youngest champion after overtaking on the final turn of the last lap to finish fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix and capture the title by one point.
Felipe Massa of Ferrari won on Sunday in front of his home crowd, but it wasn't enough to erase the seven-point lead Hamilton held entering the season-ending race.
Hamilton needed to finish fifth or better to win the title at age 23, and he did just that after overtaking Toyota's Timo Glock on the last lap. Fernando Alonso won the 2005 title for Renault at age 24.
Hamilton fell to sixth place after being overtaken by Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel with two laps to go, but the Briton recovered to move up one spot and finish the season with 98 points, one more than Massa.
Alonso was second for Renault at the 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) Interlagos track, and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari took third.
Hamilton, the first British F1 champion since Damon Hill in 1996, was sixth until the final turn but Glock's car was still on dry tires. That forced him to slow in the pouring rain, allowing Hamilton to make his move.
For a few moments, it wasn't clear whether Hamilton or Massa had won the championship with both pit teams celebrating.
Massa, who started from the pole position and was trying to become the first Brazilian champion to win the F1 title since Ayrton Senna in 1991, wept profusely on the podium.
Cautious from the start, Hamilton avoided the problems that cost him the title in Brazil last year, putting together a consistent run that kept him in the top five during most of the race.
However, he fell to seventh at one point but quickly recovered, at least until the rain began to fall with five laps to go, forcing most of the leading cars to change into wet tires.
Hamilton's pace slowed considerably, as other drivers were able to keep pushing.
The Briton won the title despite using the same engine for the second consecutive race, while Massa had a new one. Drivers are required to use the same engine in two consecutive races.
For the second year in a row, Hamilton arrived at the decisive Brazilian GP with a commanding lead in the drivers' standings. In 2007, he had a four-point lead over Alonso and a seven-point advantage over eventual champion Raikkonen.
But he missed a chance to become F1's first rookie champion after a mistake trying to pass in the first lap and a gear box problem to finish seventh in the race and second in the standings.
No McLaren driver had won the title since Mika Hakkinen in 1999. The team still remains without a win at Interlagos since Juan Pablo Montoya's victory in 2005.
Despite the drivers' title, McLaren finished second to Ferrari in the constructors' championship. The British team hasn't won the constructors' title since 1998.
McLaren trailed Ferrari by 11 points coming into the race. Ferrari secured its second consecutive championship _ and eighth in the past 10 years. Renault won consecutive titles in 2005 and '06.