Date: 7th October 2007
Winner: Kimi Räikkönen
The presence of rain can often spell pain for the less knowing of drivers, and adverse conditions reigned supreme as Typhoon Krosa hit the east coast of China in October 2007. It took Kimi Räikkönen every ounce of composure and racing experience in his body to win the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix and keep himself in contention for glory.
F1 was far from being the Mercedes-dominated spectacle of today, and no less than three drivers were vying for the world title ahead of 2007’s penultimate event. Opposing Räikkönen in this febrile dash for silverware was rookie driver Lewis Hamilton and reigning champion Fernando Alonso.
Against all the odds, 22-year old Hamilton boasted a lead of twelve points over the chasing pack with just two races remaining, and the young Brit claimed pole position in the third qualifying session, delivering at the perfect time after below-par performances in the previous sessions.
On intermediate tyres, Hamilton held out well in P1, with Felipe Massa, Räikkönen and Alonso in hot pursuit of McLaren’s new star. Further down the field, Vitantonio Luzzi made excellent progress with four overtakes to surge into sixth, but there was never any hope of an assault on the podium.
Anthony Davidson became the first casualty on lap 11, retiring due to a failed brake, with Ralf Schumacher suffering the same fate after 24 laps. Almost immediately afterwards, it was Adrian Sutil’s turn to make the long walk back to the pit lane, with a double spin taking him out of the race.
Comfortably clear of the rain-drenched chaos at the back of the field, duelling title contenders Hamilton and Räikkönen were locked in an interminable battle. The moment of fate came on lap 31, when Räikkönen overtook a wide-running Hamilton, with the latter struggling for pace on worn tyres.
Finally Hamilton was left with no choice and duly pitted, but his manoeuvre into the pits was utterly disastrous. The car’s tyres had expired to such an extent that Hamilton found his vehicle beached in gravel, and the young championship leader retired for the very first time in his career.
Despite enduring several scares from Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Robert Kubica (the latter of whom retired), Räikkönen’s victory was never in genuine jeopardy, with the Finn only ever extending his lead in the closing laps.
It was a disastrous turn of events for Lewis Hamilton, and he was now in real danger of being denied a first world title for a British driver since 1996. For Räikkönen however, Hamilton’s retirement was a godsend.
Räikkönen’s pulsating victory in the final race at Interlagos, combined with Hamilton’s 7th place finish, sealed the Ferrari driver’s first and only world title till date. His reign would be famously ended by none other than Lewis Hamilton at the same track exactly one year later.
Written by Tamhas Woods
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