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The Circuit

How the F1 title was won: Part one

  • Story Highlights
  • Kimi Raikkonen's title defense started badly but he was soon into his stride
  • Lewis Hamilton began the season strongly before struggling until Monaco
  • A poor start for Felipe Massa was soon forgotten after some strong drives
  • Next Article in World Sport »
Neale Graham
For CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Lewis Hamilton took his first Formula One world championship after an eight-month-long duel with Felipe Massa.

Lewis Hamilton is the youngest Formula One champion in the sport's 58-year hiostory.

The Circuit looks at how he became the youngest F1 champion with a race-by-race review of a record-breaking and incident-packed 2008 season.

Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, March 16

Pre-season testing suggested Ferrari had the quickest car, but drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Massa could not build on the potential. The reliability problems which saw Raikkonen qualify in 16th struck again during the race, as first Massa's engine blew -- after spins and collisions from the Brazilian -- then the Finn's. Read more about F1 at The Circuit.

Defending champion Raikkonen would at least be classified eighth in a typically chaotic season opener which saw just six cars reach the finish, Robert Kubica's BMW not among them. Hamilton, meanwhile, turned pole position into a serene Sunday drive to the win from BMW's Nick Heidfeld and Williams' Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton 10 points, Raikkonen 1, Massa 0, Kubica 0

Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, March 23

Ferrari hit back in spectacular fashion a week later. Massa took pole from Raikkonen, with Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen penalized with five-place grid drops for blocking other cars in qualifying. Starting ninth, Hamilton could do nothing about the Ferraris.

Massa's poor start to the season continued when he spun out while lying second, having been jumped by his team-mate during the first pitstops, leaving Raikkonen to cruise home ahead of Kubica. A frustrated Hamilton trailed in fifth.

Hamilton 14 points, Raikkonen 11, Kubica 8, Massa 0

Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, April 6

Kubica took his first pole position for BMW, but Sakhir is a Massa circuit and he duly put the hammer down to vault the Pole during the pitstops and into a lead he would not lose. From third on the grid, Hamilton dropped into the midfield after selecting the wrong engine setting at the start.

He then ran into the back of nemesis Fernando Alonso, requiring him to pit for a new nose cone and costing him any chance of points. Raikkonen made it a one-two finish for a resurgent Ferrari, with Kubica an impressive third.

Raikkonen 19 points, Hamilton 14, Kubica 14, Massa 10

Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, April 27

Raikkonen's return to form continued with a lights-to-flag win at the Circuit de Catalunya after starting from his first pole of the year.

After home favorite Alonso, a surprise second-place starter, retired, Massa moved up to second, while Hamilton came through from fifth on the grid to finish third in a race remarkable only for a 140mph shunt from Kovalainen caused by a puncture. Kubica impressed again as best-of-the-rest in fourth. It was also the Super Aguri team's last race in F1.

Raikkonen 29 points, Hamilton 20, Kubica 19, Massa 18

Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul, May 11

Just as Bahrain suits Massa, so does Turkey and the Brazilian forced his way back into the title race by turning pole position into his third straight win in Istanbul. It was not without its moments for the Ferrari driver, after he was passed by a charging Hamilton -- who was on a three-stop strategy -- for the lead.

Hamilton's gameplan kept him ahead of a slightly off-color Raikkonen, who was hindered by a car damaged after contact with the luckless Kovalainen at the start. Kubica was steady once more in bringing his BMW home fourth.

Raikkonen 35 points, Massa 28, Hamilton 28, Kubica 24

Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, May 25

Hamilton ended his winless run in the pouring rain of the principality. Massa had taken a surprise pole ahead of Raikkonen but Hamilton leapt off the line from third to chase Massa. But he smacked a barrier in the atrocious conditions and pitted with a puncture.

Raikkonen was given a drive-through penalty for having his tires fitted after the pitted time on the grid and his afternoon fell apart thereafter, hitting the back of Adrian Sutil's Force India en route to ninth. Massa made an error which gifted second to Kubica and, after the rain abated at a convenient juncture, Hamilton was able to pit for dry tires and win an incident-packed, safety-car interrupted race.

Hamilton 38 points, Raikkonen 35, Massa 34, Kubica 32

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How the title was won: Part two.

How the title was won: Part three.

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