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Spies, speed and spats dictate title glory

india Updated: Dec 17, 2007 19:29 IST

AFP
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Espionage, rising stars, bruised egos and multi-million dollar controversies.

They were the tasty ingredients which made the 2007 Formula One world championship compulsive viewing from the first race in March to October's climax.

The title race also proved that Grand Prix racing had a future in the post-Michael Schumacher era.

Kimi Raikkonen, the great German's successor at Ferrari, took the title by one point in the final race at Sao Paulo but the monosyllabic, flying Finn saw his world championship almost demoted to a footnote in the story of the year.

There were three major players in 2007 - confident rookie Lewis Hamilton, sensitive double champion Fernando Alonso and their McLaren team which, caught up in 'Spygate', was 100 million dollars lighter in its wallet by the time the season ended.

Alonso finished tied with Hamilton but, furious at what he perceived to be a lack of respect for his position as world champion, quit McLaren to return to Renault.

As Christmas approached, McLaren, who were kicked out of the constructors' championship, apologised for their role in 'Spygate' and admitted that Ferrari data which had fallen into their hands had been more widely used within the team than previously suspected.

"The only concern I have is that the concentration and determination of the team is not affected - and I know it won't be," said Hamilton as he reflected on his team's troubles.

"I just hope the team keep in mind that we still are the best."

The 22-year-old Hamilton gave notice of his talents in the season-opener in Australia where he finished third, and added second places in Malaysia, Bahrain and Spain as he became the youngest driver to lead the drivers championship.

But in Monaco, in May, the strains in McLaren were starting to show when Hamilton queried the team's tactics.

The Briton won in Canada for his maiden victory, stretched his lead with victory at Indianapolis and took a 10-point lead over his teammate in the title race.

Back in Europe, Raikkonen surged back into contention, leading Ferrari to a one-two finish at Magny-Cours. Hamilton was third but his lead in the championship was now 14 points.

Raikkonen won in Britain before Hamilton's record run of podium finishes came to an end at the Nurburgring as Alonso won his third race of the season.

At Hungary, the rupture in the Hamilton-Alonso relationship was complete.

The Briton started from pole after Alonso was demoted five grid positions for obstructing the rookie in qualifying.

Hamilton won and moved to 80 points with Alonso on 73 and Raikkonen on 60.

In Turkey, a burst tyre while in the lead denied Hamilton a podium finish as Felipe Massa secured his third win of the season, spearheading a Ferrari one-two ahead of Raikkonen.

Alonso shrugged off the gathering spying storm to win the Italian Grand Prix to close the gap to just three points.

Raikkonen won in Belgium while Alonso and Hamilton finished third and fourth respectively, closing the gap between them to two points.

McLaren were then ejected from the constructors' championship and fined 100 million dollars for their part in 'Spygate'.

Hamilton now led the title race on 97 points from Alonso (95) with Raikkonen jumping up to 84 points.

At the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton took a massive step towards winning the world championship with victory as Alonso crashed out.

The Briton survived being knocked off the track to claim the fourth victory of his maiden season. His points tally stretched to 107 points, 12 ahead of Alonso. Raikkonen was third on 90.

In Shanghai, Hamilton's dream began to unravel.

His McLaren slithered into a gravel pit to leave Raikkonen to snatch victory, his fifth of the campaign.

That left the F1 caravan heading for the season-ender at Interlagos with Hamilton on 107 points, Alonso on 103 with Raikkonen on 100.

It was Raikkonen who was the coolest man in Brazil.

Starting from third on the grid, the Finn led home teammate and pole sitter Massa with Alonso in third.

Hamilton's title bid ended in tears as he first went off the track on the first lap and then suffered engine trouble which left him struggling in 18th. He made his way up to seventh but that wasn't enough to land him the crown.

Raikkonen took a memorable championship with 110 points from Hamilton and Alonso on 109 each.

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