By TALES AZZONI
Associated Press Writer
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Lewis Hamilton became Formula One's youngest champion on Sunday, making a last-lap pass to finish fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix and win the title by one point over Felipe Massa.
Ferrari driver Massa won the race in front of his home crowd, but it wasn't enough to erase the seven-point lead Hamilton held entering the season-ending race.
"I am speechless," Hamilton said after the race. "It's been a long journey in which I had the support of many people. My team did a fantastic job during the entire year and we sacrificed ourselves lot. I am happy for having achieved this for all of us."
Just one year after Hamilton lost the title by one point after entering the final race with a seven-point lead over eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen, the 23-year-old McLaren driver passed Toyota's Timo Glock on the last lap to win the championship. Fernando Alonso was 24 when he won the in 2005 for Renault in 2005.
Hamilton fell to sixth place after being overtaken by Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel with two laps to go. After Vettel passed Glock, Hamilton also moved up one spot and finished the season with 98 points.
Alonso was second for Renault at the 2.6-mile Interlagos track, and defending champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari took third. Vettel was fourth.
"Unfortunately we missed by one point, but that's racing," said Massa. who was also seeking his first F1 title. "We need to be proud. The race was just perfect, we did everything just fantastically."
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.
"It was just impossible on the last lap," Glock said. "I was fighting as hard as I could but it was so difficult to just keep the car on the track and I lost positions right at the end of the lap."
Hamilton said he crossed the finish line not knowing whether he had won the championship.
"I was shouting, 'Did I win? Did I win?"' Hamilton said. "Then they told me when I was on the corner and I was ecstatic. It's a dream."
Hamilton had a long embrace with his father, Anthony, both apparently crying. He then kissed girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, a singer with The Pussycat Dolls.
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. He said he didn't know the final result until told on the team radio on the backstretch.
"They kept saying, 'Wait a second,"' said Massa, who was also seeking his first F1 title. "When I was getting to Turn 3, they said (Hamilton) passed Glock."
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 most of the race.
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, including Hamilton, to change into wet tires.
Hamilton tried to stay close to Vettel after being overtaken with two laps to go but was unable to make a move. Glock was struggling to stay on the track and had to slow down considerably to finish sixth.
For the second year in a row, Hamilton arrived at the 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 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 driver's 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.
About 70,000 Brazilian fans packed the Interlagos track, most of them dressed in the red colors of Ferrari. Many carried banners wishing bad luck to Hamilton. There was a football-like atmosphere, with fans chanting "Ole, Ole, Ole ... Massa, Massa!"
Massa was trying to become the first driver to win a title in front of his home crowd since the inaugural F1 season in 1950 -- when Italy's Giuseppe Farina won at the season-ending Italian GP. The Brazilian also had a chance to be the first non-European driver to win the title since Canada's Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.
Massa, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Ferrari after the 2005 season, won his home race in 2006 and was second last year.