Former F1 driver Timo Glock has claimed it took several years for threats against him and his family to subside, following his ‘interference’ in the 2008 title decision.
Currently racing in the DTM, Glock was involved in one of the most dramatic moments in Formula 1 history, albeit as an unwitting participant in it, at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.
That year’s title decision between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa would be decided in the final race of the season, at Massa’s home race. A victory for Massa and a sixth place or less for Hamilton would earn the Brazilian the 2008 F1 title.
On the last lap of the wet race at Interlagos, Massa was in first and Hamilton in sixth, that is, the title would go to Massa if the race ended that way, but Glock had slick tires in his Toyota car, and on the climb to the home straight, Hamilton on intermediate tires and faster than Glock, overtook the German, while Massa won the race.
With Massa crossing the finish line in first, effectively as champion at that moment, the Brazilian fans were already celebrating a lot, but Hamilton’s overtake on Glock resulted in despair for the home fans, and Hamilton was champion with just one point ahead. about Mass.
“I was on the right track, I just tried to do my job as best I could,” Glock said on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“But I remember the last three to four laps very clearly, because for me it was clear in which direction it would go, but I didn’t know that I would help decide a championship. But we were like P7 and P9, I think a cloud of rain came over the track and I said on the radio with three laps to go: ‘Guys, I think it’s going to end in disaster, because if it’s raining, it’s going to be chaotic’, and they said, ‘Let’s take the risk and stay on track (on slick tyres), we have nothing to lose’. On the penultimate lap it started to rain at the last corner and I said: ‘I need to get in the pit’, because you could see the rain on the track.”
“The tires were already getting cold, but they said: ‘You can’t go in anymore, it’s impossible now’.”
“People were already freaking out in the stands, because Massa was champion at that time. So I had to stay on the track, which got wet really fast. I was P4 at that time. I never had the information about what scenario I was in and what could happen on the last lap. I just tried to survive on the track and then several cars overtook me, Robert (Kubica) was a lap behind and passed, Sebastian (Vettel) overtook me, Lewis (Hamilton) overtook me, and I finished P6,” said Glock.
Unaware of the enormity of what had just happened on the track, Glock focused on just trying to get back safely to the pits, while his engineer relayed a brief message to him.
“It was very slippery,” recalled Glock. “My engineer told me on the radio that Hamilton was the champion, but he didn’t tell me that I had helped decide the championship.”
“I went back to the pits and, interestingly, Lewis stopped in front of me. So I went there, shook hands and said: ‘Very well, man, congratulations on your World Cup’ in front of I don’t know how many, a thousand Brazilian spectators.”
“So I walked up to the scale and a bunch of journalists and photographers came up to me and asked me questions like, ‘Was that on purpose, did you help Lewis? Why did you help Lewis? You decided the championship!’, and I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ So my physical therapist came to me and took me to the staff hospitality center, locked me in my room, and told me what happened. Only then did I understand what was happening. I still remember my mechanics, people threw things at everyone who wore a Toyota shirt. I got a police escort from the track to the hotel. From the hotel the next morning to the airport, and even on the plane they got on with me,” he added.
Having realized the seriousness of the incident and his involvement, Glock explained that he never sought out Massa for a conversation, intimidated by the possibility that the Brazilian driver might hold a grudge against him for it.
“I thought if I talked to him, he would kill me. I don’t know,” Glock said, before revealing that his paranoia couldn’t be further from reality.
“Interestingly, last year in Mexico I was on the Sky Pad and Felipe Massa walked by and waved at me. I looked at him, turned around and waved back. Then my cameraman, Toby, suggested that I ask him for an interview. So I came back and said: ‘Okay, next week is the Brazilian GP, why not do an interview with Massa in Brazil about that decisive moment of the championship?’ So I sent a message to Rubens Barrichello and asked if he could give me Felipe’s phone number: ‘Do you think he’ll talk to me?’ Of course he will talk to you, why not?’ So I texted Felipe and he replied super friendly: ‘Hey man, no problem, of course we can do an interview! That’s nice. This is a very good idea. Let’s talk about it!’” continued Glock.
“When I walked into the TV compound, Martin Brundle showed up and I said he was the right guy to do the interview. Martin interviewed us in Brazil, which was super emotional on both sides. Felipe had never seen my on-board camera on that last lap. The first time was last year in Brazil. So he really understood what position I was in. From that moment on, it was just a really cool relationship.”
Having spent so much time living in fear of Massa’s anger, Glock said he wouldn’t change a thing about how the situation was handled.
“I don’t regret it,” he said. “Of course, I could have talked to him earlier. But as it turned out, I think the story was even better. Then he invited me to his house and we had dinner with his family. I told his father that it is still very painful to see this moment when he was celebrating his son as a champion in Brazil, and then to be told that this was not it.”
“That face, the way he looked at the camera, I will never forget that. This is what I told him. I still get goosebumps when I think about it. It was just a really good weekend, I really enjoyed it. I hope we can do this again together,” he added.
Timo Glock revealed that it was several years before the death threats subsided. Given the emotion, despair and heartache of the moment, particularly in front of Massa’s fans, when Felipe took the podium in tears, Glock stated that he and his family were plagued by threats for several years after the race.
“It was really shocking how people could treat him in a way that even my parents were scared of,” he said. “Getting letters at home, fans saying I should be banned from racing. Even people saying I should be killed and stuff like that, it wasn’t cool. Every time the Brazilian race came on, my Twitter account exploded. It’s still the case sometimes, but now it’s more positive,” he said.
It was only after the images were shown on board Glock’s car that the situation calmed down for the German driver.
“It changed a lot when the onboard came out,” he said. “I don’t know why F1 waited five years for this. But when that came out, it changed a lot of people’s minds.”
“It hasn’t changed my confidence in myself. I just couldn’t understand why people thought I would have helped, or I would have made Lewis the champion. I ran for Toyota. Why should I make Lewis the champion? There was no way I could be involved in anything, because I just did my run. And I tried to make the best of it. So I couldn’t understand that people were thinking I did it on purpose. I had no idea where I was in the race.”