Kimi Raikkonen has become the 2007 Formula One World Champion. In a hectic race where each of the top three could have won it, it was Raikkonen who led his team mate over the finish line to win his first Brazilian race and his first world champion. After so many close attempts, Kimi is a worthy champion, and after his convincing display today around Autodromo Carlos Pace, McLaren will be kicking themselves for letting it slip away. From the first lap, it looked as though Ferrari would dominate, but what happened over the course of the Grand Prix wasn’t what was expected.
From the start, the Ferrari’s led the rest through turn one thanks to a superb start from Kimi Raikkonen. The McLaren’s were left to squabble among themselves, doing their best to warn off the charges from Mark Webber in the Red Bull. From here on in, Fernando Alonso appeared to move backwards and Lewis Hamilton went even further backwards. A couple of corners later and Hamilton overcooked his retaliation to Alonso, running horrendously wide and losing out. By the time he crossed the start/finish Hamilton was back in 8th. Seemingly over for the Briton, seemingly good for the Spaniard. Not bad for the Finn.
And then the hearts of every Hamilton fan sank. The McLaren slowed down the back straight. Seriously slowed. It looked as though Lewis might be about to retire, to pull his MP4-22 off to the side of the circuit. But after a brief period of cruising, he managed to solve the problem, or the problem simply solved itself. His McLaren found pace again, but he was back down in 18th position. Kimi and Fernando must have been thanking their lucky stars.
Lewis then set about picking off his rivals, one by one. Occasionally he would come across a difficult competitor, but he was making headway through the field. Conversely, at the front the Ferrari’s slowly increased the margin over Alonso. The only thing that could have scuppered the hard work of the leading trio was a safety car. When Giancarlo Fisichella skated across the gravel and shot back onto the track, Sakon Yamamoto suddenly came face to face with the rear wing of the Renault. With little being able to do, the Spyker mounted the back of the R27 and both drivers retired. No safety car though, the marshals were too good. Instead,m Lewis charged on while Fernando saw Raikkonen get ever smaller ahead of him.
In fact, Alonso fell so far back from the leading duo that it wasn’t long before Robert Kubica was all over the back of the McLaren, attempting left and right to get by. However, the Pole wasn’t to become too much of an irritance to the championship battle as he was on a three-stopper, much like Lewis Hamilton was now. The contender ad his strategy switched and spent the middle part of the race on soft tyres, each of his main rivals opting the leave the soft option until last. The three stopping formula really hampered Lewis’s chances of claiming the title, despite all the upsets he occurred in between the start and the finish.
After the second round of stops for the conventional strategists, Massa had relinquished his lead to his team mate. All they had to do was run to the end and the title would be Raikkonen’s. And that is exactly what happened. A pretty heavy accident from Heikki Kovalainen could have upset the proceedings a little, but again the marshals were just too quick on the job and the second Renault was removed without drama. Also among the retirees was Adrian Sutil (ending the Spyker team’s contribution to Formula One), Mark Webber (again), both Hondas and Sebastian Vettel.
Of the successes, aside from the obvious, was Kazuki Nakajima. The Japanese driver managed to haul his Williams into tenth, although the route he chose was somewhat interesting. His first pit stop saw to engineers being carted off to the medical centre as Nakajima locked his front right pulling in to the box. Team members were sent flying, but thankfully it only appears to be a minor back injury for one and an equally minor leg injury for another. Nakajima’s second stop went better.
And so, the Brazilian Grand Prix held the finale to one of the most dramatic seasons in Formula One history. Full of controversy and embarrasment, penalties and successes. And on top of the world is a deserving driver who has finally managed to fulfill his childhood dream. I can honestly say I don’t think one driver deserved it as much, despite what I may have been asked to write recently!