It happened today

It happened today – 21 October

On 21st October 2007, Kimi Raikkonen won the Brazilian Grand Prix and thus became world champion. It was an incredible end to an equally incredible season, both in terms of the racing and the politics, with “Spygate” providing a side bar to the on track duel between Ferrari and McLaren.

As the teams arrived in Sao Paolo the championship situation had Hamilton leading on 107 points, Alonso second on 103 and Kimi third on 100: for the Finn to make up seven points seemed an almost impossible task, even if the win in Shanghai two weeks earlier had already shown that anything could happen.

The F2007 proved to be competitive right from Friday and on Saturday, Massa took a sensational pole, while Kimi was third having been blocked by Hamilton no less on the decisive lap in Q3. So the Englishman split the two Ferraris with Alonso fourth. As the lights went out, the two Prancing Horse cars got perfect getaways: Felipe kept the lead and Kimi passed Hamilton. The Englishman was also overtaken by Alonso and, in attempting to regain the position, he went off the track at turn 3, dropping down to eighth. The two Ferrari drivers soon pulled away from their pursuers: on lap 10, Felipe already had more than 8 seconds in hand over Alonso. In the meantime, Hamilton was delayed with gearbox problems and plummeted to eighteenth place, which meant he now faced a very tough afternoon. On lap 20, Felipe made his first pit stop, followed by his team-mate next time round. The McLaren duo, separated by 40 seconds, pitted on lap 22. After the run of pit stops, Felipe was still in the lead, tailed by Kimi, with Alonso 14 seconds down, one ahead of Hamilton. Only the Englishman had switched strategies, going from a two to a three stop. In the second stint, the two F2007s continued to dominate the field: the gap to those behind ranout to over 30 seconds on lap 40. Four laps earlier, when ninth, Hamilton had made his second stop, being lapped by the two Ferraris. One of the few scares for Ferrari came on lap 44, as Felipe lost a few seconds on oil dropped by Barrichello’s Honda. On lap 50, the Brazilian made his second stop, followed by Alonso on lap 52 and Kimi on lap 53. The Finn went into the lead and kept it all the way to the chequered flag, followed closely by Felipe. Behind them was a void which Alonso eventually filled over 40 seconds later. In the points, there was a closely fought battle between Rosberg and the two BMWs, while Hamilton, who made his third stop on lap 56, managed to climb back to seventh, but only because Trulli made his stop on lap 63, but the Englishman got no higher than that. Kimi was first across the line, thus winning the title, having also found the time to set the race fastest lap on lap 66.

“What seemed like an impossible dream became reality at the end of a race in which the drivers and team managed the situation in superb fashion, and you only need to look at the race in detail to see that,” said Todt afterwards. “We had to get a one-two finish and then see what happened with our closest rivals. It required a ‘contribution’ from others, both those in the hunt for the title and those who were out of the game, to bring home both titles. Yes indeed, because not only have we won the Drivers’ title with Kimi but we have also scored the points that confirms we have taken the Constructors’ title that was already ours following the decision of the FIA World Council back on 13 September. Two titles, nine wins, four one-twos, nine pole positions and twelve fastest races laps: these are exceptional figures from a season in which we went through some difficult moments, but never gave up. Today we have been rewarded for all our efforts. I wish to congratulate Kimi and thank Felipe, who again today, proved his loyalty to Ferrari. Without his help we would not have reached our goals.”

“It’s very difficult for me to put into words when I feel right now, it’s an incredible feeling,” added Kimi. “I want to thank the team for everything it has done this year. Even when we went through difficult times and we had been written off, we didn’t give up and this effort was rewarded today. Thanks also to my parents, my wife Jenni and everyone who believed in me. I have got what I have been chasing for a while: now whatever happens will be a plus. Today, Felipe’s help was vital and he was amazing: we had to finish first and second and then see what the others did. This time, things went our way and something unexpected happened. This has been a very nice year for me: I enjoyed Formula 1 like never before. In Ferrari, I have found a great family and I am proud to have won the title with them.”

The excitement did not end with the chequered flag. It appeared that the fuel used by BMW and Williams had been kept at an illegal temperature: if the cars were disqualified then Hamilton would have been promoted to fourth place and would have won the title. In the evening, the results were declared final by the FIA and the inevitable McLaren appeal did not prevent Ferrari from celebrating. The appeal was heard on 15 November, when it was rejected by the FIA Court of Appeal.

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