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Driver’s Seat

Anybody who knows me knows that Im really not into sport. My standard response to soccer enquiries is “I dont talk about football, I support West Ham” – and frankly my supporting West Ham is pretty close to genetic – both my parents hailed from West Ham, we lived close to Upton Park for a while when I was a child, and frankly, while I would never describe myself as a “supporter” it is to West Hams scores that I always turn.

No, the only sport that even remotely interests me is Formula One, that strange mix of bravery, technology, speed and glamour. Ive been fortunate enough to have attended three Grands Prix now, one in Spain, one in China and one at Silverstone. I hope that I will have the chance to attend a few more in due course.

I have also deliberately steered away from any mention of sport or Formula One in this blog, until now.  This season has had more than ebough controversy with Stewards seeming to penalise drivers for trivial or imagined indiscretions.

Yesterdays Grand prix in Sao Paolo, Brazil, while far from being a classic race, provided the most astonishing climax to any Formula One season I can remember. I vividly recall Nigel Mansells spectacular tyre failure in Melbourne in 1986, or when Michael Schumaker launched Damon Hill off the same circuit in 1996, both incidents denying the British driver a World Championship title. So yesterdays race, with Lewis Hamilton only needing to finish fifth to steal the crwon, having lost it by a single point last year, was bound to be eventful.

And eventful it was, with a torrential rainstorm delaying the start and a circuit that was wet in places but dry in others. Teams were forced to make split second decisions over strategy and tactics and it all seemd to be sorted with only about eight laps to go. Felipe Massa led the race throughout, a peerless performance and deserved win, while Lewis Hamilton seemed comfortable to gain the fifth place he needed. And then it started to rain once again.

Most drivers dived into the pits to change onto tyres better suited to the wet conditions with the exception of the two Toyota drivers, leaving Lewis back in 6th place which wasnt enough to gain him the championship. My neighbour Bob had come round to watch the race with me, and we both concluded, with less than half a lap remaining, that Lewis had once again blown it. Only to find ourselves cheering as he passed Timo Glocks Toyota with barely half a mile of the race remaining.

Eighteen races, thousands of miles, several dubious stewards decisions, and the championship was settled in the last mile. Ive never seen anything like it, and I doubt I will again.

Well done Lewis, the boy done good.

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