Brazilian GP - A memorable race...
Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa scored a phenomenal one-two in Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix on the outskirts of Sao Paulo for the Finn to clinch the 2007 World Drivers' Championship by one tiny point. It was a cliff-hanging race, dominated by the Ferraris but their ultimate fate would be decided by the positions of their two championship rivals at McLaren Mercedes. While they were chased home by Fernando Alonso, championship leader Lewis Hamilton lost places on the first lap, and then slipped to the back of the field as he was slowed by a gear shift problem which he was able to rectify eventually to finish seventh, a point behind Raikkonen.
On a hot day, with the track temperature reaching a record 64 degrees, and an ambient of 34 degrees, the circuit was packed with eager spectators. The start was crucial, as Massa took off into the lead and Raikkonen drove around the outside of Hamilton in the first corner. Into turn two, Hamilton's teammate Alonso passed his rival and slipped into third place, but Hamilton, trying to fight back, braked on the outside of the corner at the end of the first straight, locked up his brakes, and slid wide, eventually rejoining in eighth place.
Now began a fight back, quickly overtaking Jarno Trulli and then latching onto the tail of a group comprising the two BMWs and Webber in fourth place. As the two Ferraris began to pull away from Alonso, Hamilton moved up to sixth ahead of Heidfeld, while a lap later Kubica overtook Webber.
But Hamilton had slowed drastically. He lost 28s on this lap as he tried to find gears, then was told how to re-set the electronic gearshift system by radio, eventually getting back up to speed and crossing the line in 18th place.
At the front, Massa and Raikkonen were reigning supreme, their advantage over Alonso in third place standing at 8.9s after 14 laps, the Spaniard slowly pulling away from Kubica in fourth place. Webber suddenly pulled out of fifth place on lap 15 when the car stopped, promoting a battle between Trulli and Nico Rosberg to fifth and sixth.
The first pit stops came on lap 19 when Kubica pitted, while Massa came in on lap 20, Raikkonen next time round, and Alonso on lap 22. Heidfeld, however, stayed out until lap 25. The gap had grown between the two Ferrari drivers and would peak at 3.7s on lap 28, while the gap to Alonso grew to 12s - and now began to grow faster.
At half distance, Hamilton had reached ninth place before making a second stop. Fourth placed Kubica made his second stop on lap 38 which promoted Trulli to fourth place. By now, Alonso was 30s behind Raikkonen.
Crucially, on lap 44, Massa lost most of his 2.8s lead to Raikkonen when he had a moment down at turn four and slid wide, suspecting there may have been oil there. He was able to pull away again over the next few laps, but he only had a 1.4s lead when he pitted for the second time on lap 50. Raikkonen, however, stayed out for a further three laps, and when he came in after several quick laps, he emerged just ahead of his teammate.
Raikkonen pulled away to 3.4s, but then the pair settled into a rhythm which they held to the chequered flag. Behind them, Alonso was 45s away, and not that much ahead of the BMW pair of Heidfeld and Kubica, having a tremendous battle with Nico Rosberg. In the end, it was Rosberg who finished fourth from the BMW pair. Next up was Hamilton in seventh place.
Raikkonen crossed the line a delighted winner, his sixth victory of the season and in his first year with Ferrari. Only Juan-Manuel Fangio had won the title with Formula One's oldest and most famous team in his rookie year with the team. Massa was a popular second, while Alonso a philosophical third, clearly acknowledging the superior pace of Ferrari on this important day.
Late in the evening, however, there were reports that there was a fuel discrepancy with the BMW Sauber and Williams cars, which had finished fourth, fifth and sixth. As this is written we await further details.