Formula One: Kimi Raikkonen crowned champion in last race of the season
Sunday October 21, 2007
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) – Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 Formula One drivers world championship here Sunday for Ferrari when he produced a flawless run to victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The ‘ice-man’ from Finland drove superbly to grab the 15th win of his careeer and his sixth this year ahead of his Ferrari team-mate and local hero Felipe Massa.
Defending double drivers world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain finished third in his McLaren and ended up sharing second place in the drivers’ title race with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The luckless 22-year-old British rookie, who began the day four points ahead of Alonso and seven in front of Raikkonen, lost ground at the start, falling back from second to fourth on the opening lap and then plummeting to 18th on lap seven when he suffered gearbox problems.
But he stormed back to finish in seventh place and score two points when he needed at least two more to make history by being the first rookie to lift the title.
German-born Nico Rosberg, the son of the original flying Finn Keke Rosberg, came fourth for Williams ahead of Poland’s Robert Kubica and German Nick Heidfelt in the two BMW Saubers.
The drivers title race ended with Raikkonen on 110 points and Alonso and Hamilton both on 109 at the end of the first three-way title battle for 21 years.
There was drama from the start when Brazilian Felipe Massa pulled clear from his ninth pole position into the lead followed by Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen, in the process squeezing Hamilton out of the way.
The move of the two Ferraris meant that Hamilton was held up behind them and this allowed Alonso through to take third place as they battled down through the Senna S bend.
The crowd went wild at seeing Massa lead but it all went sadly wrong for Hamilton as he was forced off the circuit on the opening lap and after running across a green painted run-off area he rejoined down in eighth place.
It looked almost impossible for him to fight back as he ran behind the leading group, but he worked his way back up to seventh before being hit by a gear selection problem.
His car slowed alarmingly for British fans and he slipped down to 18th place and a long way from not only the points, but possibly the world title.
At the front Massa sped clear followed by Raikkonen whilst there was carnage elsewhere with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in his Renault rejoining from an off track excursion only to he driven into from behind by Sakon Yamamoto of Japan in a spyker.
Hamilton somehow solved his problems and regained his speed as he pushed his way through the field, rising from 18th to 11th with some supreme passing moves and fast driving.
The leaders began to dive into the pits to stop for fresh tyres and fuel after lap 20, Massa leading the way ahead of Raikkonen who led the race for a lap until he also pitted one lap later.
This left the defending champion Alonso out in front for a lap but he also pitted and after the first round of stops the field reassembled with Massa leading Raikkonen and then Alonso at the front.
Hamilton pitted after 22 laps and rejoined in 14th place from where he fought tigerishly to make up places, passing Brazilian Rubens Barrichello with a sweeping and aggressive dive through the Senna S bends on lap 28.
This hoisted Hamilton into 12th place but he was 50 seconds behind the leader Massa who was running two seconds ahead of Raikkonen with Alonso down in third 19 seconds adrift.
On lap 30, there was more drama when Kazuki Nakajima in his BMW came into the pits and crashed into his own team of mechanics, two of whom were sent flying and appeared to be slightly injured.
Hamilton, with great verve and concentration, was up to ninth by lap 33, just one place outside the points positions and chasing hard to haul in time on fellow-Briton David Coulthard who was running in eighth place.
By then, Poland’s Robert Kubica had passed Alonso at the end of the straight and soon after this Hamilton pitted again for hard tyres from ninth after 36 laps.
In 36 degrees heat by lap 40, Hamilton had been lapped by the two leading Ferraris who were in stunning form and more than a minute ahead of Alonso who recovered third after the pit stops.
The Ferraris were in a world of their own, running just seven-tenths of a second apart as the mathematics and probabilities occupied all the spectators wondering about the outcome of the world title race.
After 47 laps, Hamitlon was up to eighth but he needed to finish fifth if the positions remained unchanged ahead of him – a massively-demanding target.
When Ferrari pitted again, Massa came in first after 50 laps and Raikkonen stayed out three laps before pitting to push himself into a position where, when he rejoined, he was 1.9 seconds ahead of his team-mate.
This put him in line to win and collect the title unless Alonso, who also pitted, could claw his way into one of the top two positions, which proved beyond the Spaniard.
Raikkonen, with the scent of glory in his nostrils, then pulled clear by three seconds from Massa, the Finn going on to claim a famous victory.