Raikkonen claims title by a point as Hamilton hits trouble

2007 Brazilian Grand Prix review

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2007 | Ferrari mediaA car failure for Lewis Hamilton gave Kimi Raikkonen the opportunity to finally win the F1 championship in a dramatic finale at Interlagos.

While Hamilton battled in vain to fight through the field Raikkonen won the race to snatch the title by a single point.

Felipe Massa sacrificed a potential second win at his home race to make his team mate champion and finished second ahead of Fernando Alonso.

The pressure was on and the heat was terrific. Before the race two subjects dominated the discussions – the championship, and tyres.

With track temperatures hitting 63C as the race started, and a new track surface smoothing over the bumps of Interlagos and cutting lap times, tyre wear was forecast to be critical – especially on the softer of the two compounds.

The start could not have gone much better for Hamilton’s title rivals – Raikkonen blasted past him on the run to the first corner, then twitched wide, slowing the Briton down. Alonso seized his chance, and dived into third at turn three.

Hamilton tried to respond but was caught out when Alonso got on the brakes – he ran disastrously wide at turn four and fell to eighth behind Robert Kubica, Nick Heidfeld and Jarno Trulli.

Hamilton quickly got stuck into his rivals, zapping past Trulli on lap two, then taking Heidfeld around the outside of turn one on lap seven.

But then there came even better news for Raikkonen and Alonso – Hamilton slowed, and for a moment looked as though he would retire. But suddenly the car burst back into life, and he continued – in 18th place.

This place Raikkonen in the pound seats for the championship – ready to take over the lead from Massa.

What Hamilton needed was the appearance of the safety car but good work by the marshals was conspiring against him. They cleared away the mess from the collision between Giancarlo Fisichella and Sakon Yamamoto under waved yellow flags.

Hamilton began his fight back, quickly catching a four-car gaggle of Takuma Sato, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Ralf Schumacher. By lap 17 he’d taken them all and was up to 11th.

The top three stayed the same but Robert Kubica took Mark Webber for fourth. Massa was the first to pit on lap 20, followed by Alonso on the next lap. Raikkonen also stopped before Hamilton came in on lap 21.

McLaren took the opportunity to gamble on Hamilton’s strategy, switching him to the super-soft compound tyres. It gave him the impetus to continue his attack on the cars in front of him – no more so than when he dived past Barrichello from an enormous distance at turn one.

Further ahead Alonso was dropping back from the leaders and suddenly had Kubica all over him. The Pole lined him up at turn one and took third off him on lap 32. Kubica, however, was on a three-stop strategy, and was back into the pits six laps later.

Hamilton was quickly in again on lap 37 from ninth place, switching back to the harder tyres but not taking on enough fuel to get to the end of the race. At the same time Heikki Kovalainen crashed heavily, having made contact with Ralf Schumacher on the first lap, but the accident was once again cleared away without the need for a safety car.

By the time the leaders came to make their final stops their tyres were visibly suffering. Ferrari got Raikkonen ahead of Massa by having him stop later.

Alonso particularly suffered before his pit stops, his lap times up to two seconds slower than the drivers in front of him.

Hamilton’s third and final pit stop left him ninth and looking at a gap of almost 30 seconds to the precious fifth place he needed.

He started his attack by passing Coulthard on his out lap, on his way to a 1’12.506 lap which was the fastest of the race so far. But that wasn’t the kind of pace that the car could sustain on every lap, and as the tyres degraded the prospect of him taking fifth place fell out of reach.

Up ahead of him Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica were battling hard for fourth. Rosberg dived past Heidfeld at turn one on lap 60 but the pair ran wide, allowing Kubica past. Rosberg battled on and caught Kubica again, finally passing the Pole for fourth with two laps to go.

Raikkonen was completely serene out front, grabbing fastest lap on the 66th tour. Not worrying about what Hamilton was doing, he breezed around the final laps to win.

When he crossed the line Hamilton was actually two cars behind him, but a lap down in seventh. At that moment, Raikkonen became the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion.

Massa did his duty and finished second with Alonso third. The Spaniard finally tied with his team mate on points, but ends the year third overall.

Rosberg, like Alonso, may have started his last race for his team. The German put in an exceptional performance to take fourth, beating both the BMWs, and allowing Williams to cement their fourth in the constructors’ championship.

Kubica was fifth and Heidfeld sixth, with a disconsolate Hamilton seventh, less than ten seconds away from Kubica. Trulli had gone into the pits late into the race, surrendering seventh to Hamilton, and falling to eighth.

Coulthard finished out of the points in ninth, as did team mate Webber who retired on lap 14. Nakajima, tenth, was lucky to finish after hitting two of his mechanics during a pit stop. Both were injured, though not too seriously, and taken to the medical centre.

Schumacher, Sato, Liuzzi and Davidson were the remaining finishers, the latter surviving an assault by Adrian Sutil who picked up a drive through penalty for the move, before retiring.

Nor did either of the Hondas finish after a rotten year for the team – Barrichello’s engine blowing up spectacularly on the main straight.

Hamilton’s recovery drive was spellbinding and reminiscent of Michael Schumacher’s last year. But the man of the moment is Raikkonen. With 110 points, he wins the title by a single point from two other drivers, having been 26 points behind at one point in the season.

No one can fail to be impressed by either of them. More races like this next year please!

Race rating

An astonishing twist in the final race, and a brilliant drive by Hamilton.

Update: Following the race the stewards investigated the Williams and BMW cars after it was found their fuel temperatures fell outside of regulations. See here for more: Investigation could jeopardise Raikkonen’s title hopes.

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15 comments on Raikkonen claims title by a point as Hamilton hits trouble

  1. cyanide said on 21st October 2007, 19:40

    Great race, and Raikkonen is the champion. Nothing more I could ask for :D

  2. Abhishek Sinha said on 21st October 2007, 19:52

    Great article, except for the fact that Massa did *not* sacrifice anything. Raikkonen beat him to the winner’s spot fair and square, though the team’s think tank obviously helped with their clever pit stop strategies. Despite that however, Raikkonen might have come in second and lost the championship to Alonso if it wasn’t for those brilliant laps he put in before his final pit stop, that actually allowed him to come out in first place before Massa.

  3. Fabry said on 21st October 2007, 20:13

    Great victory, against all odds..!
    I agree with Abhishek Sinha (also if however Massa MUST let Kimi pass… :)
    I’m sorry if the pace car didn’t enter, but if so, considering that were no reason, I would have switched off the TV…

    bye,
    Fabrizio

  4. steve b said on 21st October 2007, 20:35

    McLaren pit strategy cost Lewis Hamilton the World championship. Had they fuelled him to the end of the race at his second stop he would have secured 5th place (with Alonso’s co-operation)and won the World Championship.

  5. hobbitland said on 21st October 2007, 20:36

    Maybe Kimi/Massa will become the new Ferrari dream team to replace Sumi/Bar. Brazilian do make good support drivers at Ferrai.

    McLaren lost because the screwed up in China by not changing Lewis tyres. Then they gave Lewis the wrong types in Brazil. Maybe they screw Lewis gear box as well. I think McLaren is trying hard to manufacturer a Alonso championship win.

    McLaren would have won if Alonso suported Lewis a few races earlier. So much for team. A team in F1 CAN NOT have two equal drivers. That is not possible. They should bring back team orders or have a single driver per team.

  6. Am very happy for Kimi. he did it, finally !!!

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st October 2007, 20:51

    Regarding Steve’s comment, Ron Dennis said after the race he thought switching Hamilton’s strategy saved him ten seconds:

    Car failure denies Hamilton

  8. Ferrari is back, They won the championship in the track and not in the court. Cant wait for the next season. The odds were against Kimi, but it all fell together for him. Unreal Luck. I gotta paint myself red tommorow.

  9. openwheelfan said on 21st October 2007, 21:06

    Great race graet season!!

    So much can be said about both. It seems that the season could only end this way. Hamilton showing his youth. The ferrari’s showing their strength. Kimi showing all of us a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE.

    COME ON 2008

  10. gking said on 21st October 2007, 21:47

    The most amazing thing is that Kimi was 17 points adrift before China.

    Even two wins in two in that situation is usually not enough. Maybe he can count himself lucky on Lewis’s problems (It would have been interesting if his car hadn’t cut out who would have won), but I don’t want to take anything away from Kimi, especially after coming so close on TWO previous occasions – he desevered some luck!

    Roll on next season (and hopefully a Hamilton win!)

  11. Tommy B said on 21st October 2007, 22:00

    My heart was racing all the way through the race. Shame Hamilton couldnt win it but what a great season! EVERYTHING happened, what an almost perfect season. Will never forget F1 season 2007

  12. K Smith said on 21st October 2007, 22:48

    The “F” in F1 must stand for “farce”, and the FIA the first three letters of FIAt.

    Felipe Massa does a Rubens Barrichello impersonation mid-race (remember Austria 2002?) to hand the lead to Raikkonen, and nobody says a word? Massa was the fastest in the race and should have won. Without slowing to help Raikkonen, Raikkonen would have finished second and Fernando Alonso would be world champion.

    I thought “team orders will be investigated and punished” was the new rule. So much for that. Just like last year’s attempts to hand Ferrari the title (the “illegal” aerodynamics, the “illegal” ballast, the “illegal” move at Monza), the FIAt is getting more blatant in its bias.

    If there’s any justice, BMW will be disqulified for the fuel irregularities and Hamilton will be crowned champion. But of course, the FIAt oversees that, too….

  13. Eric M. said on 21st October 2007, 23:38

    I didn’t watch the race. Awesome result! Please tell me that James Allen was in tears!!! Please!!!

  14. Number 38 said on 22nd October 2007, 6:21

    Massa may not be this years ‘champion’ but he is a CHAMPION.
    When in front that boy flies, and when it became evident Hamilton wasn’t able to make enough points he did the right thing, he’s a team player and he handed the lead to Kimi. Cheers for Massa !!!!!

  15. Big pat on the back for Massa (like Kimi did in the Press Conference :) )

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