F1 season finale: Liveblog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, October 21st, 2007

 
 

1843: Mental arithmetic suggests – although we may be proved wrong by the official figures – that Hamilton has more second-place finishes than Alonso and therefore is the runner up. We will be allowing ourselves a very big grin if this proves to be the case.

* * * * *

1831: Oh well. That’s sport for you. This is the reason that Michael Schumacher, Arsenal football club and the Brazilian international team are all so popular – they insulate us from the sad truth that disappointment is the sports fan’s natural condition. And, as hardly needs pointing out, there’s plenty of time left for Hamilton.

All power to Raikkonen’s elbow, he’s been a great driver ever since he was at Sauber. But we still don’t rate his team very highly, or its behaviour this season. It’s a shame all that will mar Raikkonen’s victory.

And we definitely don’t think we’ll bother to watch the shenanigans on the podium.

* * * * *

1830: Kimi Raikkonen will apparently be the third Finnish world champion – the great Mika Hakkinen and, we assume, Keke Rosberg being the other two.

* * * * *

1829: Three laps to go and as you were.

* * * * *

1828: A fierce battle between Rosberg and Kubica for the racing line and for fourth place results in absolutely no cars spinning, losing places or retiring from the race.

* * * * *

1827: “There is always, of course, next year,” says James Allen.

* * * * *

1825: Raikkonen sets a new fastest lap of the race. Five laps to the finish.

* * * * *

1823: …until Trulli makes an unexpected pit stop. Now Hamilton’s in seventh – just one single, solitary point behind Raikkonen. The Finn has a win in hand if it comes to a tie break so Lewis needs at least fifth. He is still pushing, and catching Heidfeld, but surely he can’t do it in time.

* * * * *

1822: Strange, we had a funny feeling this would happen after watching the depressing last half-hour of last night’s rugby match… Eight laps to go and Hamilton’s making little impression on Trulli.

* * * * *

1820: Coulthard has spun after a close encounter with Williams’ Nakajima. Both cars remain in the race.

* * * * *

1819: Rosberg has just had a very close encounter with Robert Kubica who’s now back in fourth after some extremely aggressive overtaking also involving Nick Heidfeld. These three cars have reversed their order – Kubica, Rosberg, Heidfeld now.

* * * * *

1816: McLaren mechanics’ faces tell the story. Kubica has pitted – Alonso is third, a point behind Raikkonen, but it’s not enough. Hang on. Hamilton’s suddenly found some speed and set a fastest first sector for the entire race. Now he’s looking at Jarno Trulli.

* * * * *

1815: DC has been very courteous in letting Hamilton past. Pitstop was a ‘splash and go’. Now the boy’s in 8th.

* * * * *

1814: Hamilton is in the pit lane. Alonso can’t make up enough places. It’s Raikkonen’s. Hamilton appears to have been the only driver in the race on a three-stopper. He’s come out behind Coulthard in 9th place (ie out of the points) with 14 laps left.

* * * * *

1813: The question is now being asked: what would happen if Alonso was asked to let Hamilton past? What possible leverage do McLaren have over him?

* * * * *

1812: Well, look at that. Raikkonen appears to have got past Massa in the pit stops! Now he is in the lead! Brilliant work from Ferrari, couldn’t have looked more convincing. Kubica in third, Alonso currently in fourth.

* * * * *

1807: Massa has come out second. Raikkonen is absolutely flying on lap times now his car is light. Looks like the switch is coming. If Hamilton can get to fifth then he could yet be OK.

* * * * *

1806: Ferrari mechanics are out heralding the start of the second round of pit stops. Massa has a good, quick stop. Can they possibly be thinking of letting him win?

* * * * *

1804: Jense interviewed from the pits on the premature end to his season: “At least we can get rid of this car now…”

* * * * *

1803: Hamilton’s got the proverbial mountain to climb as his lap times are not all that clever. Will his fate be in the hands of the engineering of the Williams, Toyotas and BMWs?

* * * * *

1800: 25 laps left of this year’s F1 season. Hamilton still in eighth place. Alonso third and a full 30 seconds behind the Ferraris. “Hamilton’s still got a lot of work to do,” say the TV commentators, euphemistically.

* * * * *

1759: If it were black-flagged now, Alonso would be on 109 points, Hamilton and Raikkonen on 108 each. Um… feeling a bit guilty, actually, for mentioning the prospect of that Honda letting go…

* * * * *

1757: DC has pitted from eighth and it looks like Hamilton has got himself into the points. Kovalainen has been stretchered off but has been seen walking and waving to the crowd so fortunately it looks precautionary.

* * * * *

1756: Yellow flag out while the bits of that Renault are collected. Barrichello’s car is on fire (having made it back to the garage) so that’s his home race over. Poor old Rubens. 14 drivers left in the game.

* * * * *

1752: Kubica pits from third place. Back of envelope calculations suggest Hamilton needs at least fifth and is far from guaranteed to get it. Our money is now marginally on Raikkonen.

* * * * *

1751: Heikki Kovalainen is in bits at the side of the road, bless him, but this shouldn’t be a safety car incident. And he looks pretty much OK.

* * * * *

1750: Hamilton pits to get shot of those soft tyres. This could give him the sliver of advantage he needs while everyone else still has to use them.

* * * * *

1746: Hamilton now ninth following a R Schumacher pit. If he goes to eighth then they all tie on 108 points.

* * * * *

1745: Kubica has taken Alonso to move into third and net himself a shot at a podium. As things stand it’s a tie between Alonso and Raikkonen both on 108 points. But Raikkonen has the Massa card to play…

* * * * *

1744: For the love of God! The Williams rookie has just run over a stack of mechanics. The pit lane looks like a skittle alley. So much for his drive next year (however a hilarious piece of footage doing the rounds a few years back showed M Schumacher doing exactly the same).

* * * * *

1743: Hamilton’s looking speculatively at the rear end of a Toro Rosso. Let’s hope he doesn’t spook Vittel with the kind of move he pulled on Barrichello.

* * * * *

1741: Robert Kubica is in danger of putting a serious crimp in Alonso’s plans here. Trulli’s in fifth still, but his car’s hardly been a byword for reliability this season…

* * * * *

1740: No chance of that. A nail-biting overtake from Hamilton on a bit of track invisible to all of us watching leaves Rubinho trailing in his wake. He came for two car lengths back. Magnificent stuff. At the front, Kubica seems to be catching Alonso…

* * * * *

1738: Kimi’s got his poise back and is gaining on Massa. Then it’s Alonso, Kubica, Trulli, Heidfeld. DC tries to take Heidfeld and fails. Hamilton stuck in 13th behind Rubens Barrichello. Guess all he has to do is wait for that Honda to let go…

* * * * *

1736: DC in a fantastic duel with Rosberg for 6th and 7th after a bit of needle leaving the pits. Red Bull team radio suggests the team believe DC should strike while the young German’s car is heavy with fuel. Chaos and cars queuing in the Super Aguri pit lane.

* * * * *

1735: Is Raikkonen having tyre problems? Certainly he’s heading backwards in relation to Massa. Honestly, it’ll be a miracle if he gets in front. Won’t it?

* * * * *

1733: Sutil and Davidson have got themselves in terrible bother leading to a very elegant spin… Davidson heading back to the pits. They involve Massa up in it for a second or two… After pit stops it’s Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso still the top three, and Hamilton in 14th.

* * * * *

1731: Huge gamble from McLaren who put the dodgy softs on Hamilton’s car. Double plus speed, but terrible reliability prospects. ITV commentary team extremely sceptical of his chances. Massa 2.6 secs ahead of Raikkonen, DC pits from eighth but fails to pick up a place on Rosberg.

* * * * *

1730: As you were – Massa has actually gained a bit on Raikkonen. Hamilton now in 10th place and, of course, light on fuel. Alonso now pitting. It becomes clear that Hamilton got second in quali with considerably more fuel than his team mate. The curse of Honda means Button’s had to retire with a mechanical problem.

* * * * *

1729: First round of pit stops. Massa goes in for fresh tyres and comes out in third. Will Ferrari do the switch this early? Hamilton still 11th. Kimi is pitting from the lead but Alonso goes through in a bid to put a move on him.

* * * * *

1728: Next targets for Hamilton will be Vittel in 9th and DC in 8th. Once he’s past Jense, that is…

* * * * *

1724: Hamilton up the inside of Alex Wurz’s replacement (haven’t mastered his name yet) and is now up to eleventh. Duel with Jense approaching for 10th place… Hamilton 40 secs behind Alonso who is in turn a good way down the road from the Ferraris.

* * * * *

1723: Lewis has got himself up to twelfth!

* * * * *

1722: Hamilton takes Ralf Schumacher (still feeling the need to use his first name!) and meets a pair of duelling Super Aguris. Poor old Webber – that bloody Red Bull’s let go again. Is he the unluckiest man in F1? DC still hanging in – he’s in eighth.

* * * * *

1720: Feeling is that Hamilton’s had some kind of gearbox problem. Massa’s just done a fastest lap of the race. Given that this is Interlagos, let’s hope that Felipe’s singing from the Ferrari hymn sheet. Hamilton, still in 17th, stuck in a traffic nightmare, not all of which can be dealt with by the blue flag.

* * * * *

1718: Frantic points calculation going on here. We reckon that if Massa lets Raikkonen through (much danger of that, d’you think?) then the Ice Man winneth.

* * * * *

1716: Fisi/Yamamoto incident to be investigated. Looks like Fisi’s fault to us.

Lap 11: Massa 1.5 secs from Raikkonen with Alonso 7 secs back. Then Kubica, then Webber. Hamilton’s picked up a place and is now in 17th.

* * * * *

1715: Hamilton deep in conversation with his engineers, trying to sort out what the hell the problem is, although he’s just put in a flying middle sector. So we may still be in business, although as things stand Alonso’s the winner. Hamilton 40 secs off the leader but only the Ferraris are faster.

* * * * *

1713: Holy guacamole, there’s the possibility of engine trouble for Hamilton and he’s in something like 18th place when we return after the adverts. Hard to believe this is actually happening, especially after the rugby. There again…

* * * * *

1710: Ferraris opening up clean air between themselves and the rest of the field. Hamilton eight seconds behind the race leader. Alonso also leaving Webber behind. Already a feeling of Ferraris ‘as you were’ for the next 66 laps…

* * * * *

1708: James Allen this time: “What is it about British sportsmen that makes them make their public suffer so much? There’s no such thing as a straightforward win, is there?”

Did Hamilton and Alonso actually touch at the start? Is that what sent Hamilton wide?

* * * * *

1707: Ron Dennis described by Ted Kravitz on ITV as “on the pit wall very quietly doing his nut”. We are reminded of Hamilton’s supreme overtaking abilities and how he will need them. Yellow flag is back in, Fisi’s and Yamamoto’s cars in pieces after a nasty collision. Hamilton is not on top of this: he panics and nearly comes off for a second time.

* * * * *

1705: Hamilton is in eighth and in potentially serious trouble. A Spyker crashes badly enough to raise the prospect of the safety car. Already Liuzzi needs a new nose and Kovalainen is reported to have been in an incident. Order at the front is Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, two Beemers then Hamilton who has taken Trulli.

* * * * *

1704: Hamilton on the dirty side of the grid. Raikkonen takes Hamilton, Webber takes Alonso but then he’s taken back. Alonso gets his nose in front of Hamilton, the boy wonder tries to get his place back and is off into the gravel. Now he’s a significant way down the field. Terrible start and a yellow flag is out.

* * * * *

1700: Parade lap is underway. Much laying-down of rubber but otherwise it passes without incident. McLaren team radio reports Hamilton’s engineer confirming everything is fine with his car. Ssssh! Don’t say that out loud… Adrian Sutil starts from the pit lane and now the cars are forming up on the grid again.

* * * * *

1655: They’re on the grid… weather is warm and sunny, so much so that there are concerns about the performance of the soft tyres. Race is 71 laps long. A quick reminder on positions: Massa on pole, then Hamilton, Raikkonen and Alonso. Red Bull’s Mark Webber is a magnificent fifth.

* * * * *

1643: A quick recap of what needs to happen for Lewis (or either of the other two title contenders) to win: Hamilton has 107 points, Alonso 103, and Raikkonen 100. This means that Hamilton simply needs to finish ahead of his rivals – but Alonso must gain at least four points on Hamilton and Raikkonen at least seven. Apparently Hamilton can go as low as fifth. If we get into counting back past victories, Hamilton and Alonso have won four apiece and Raikkonen five. Beyond that… is anyone’s guess, frankly. We’re not going there.

* * * * *

1635: Lots of predictions flying around, we like this one from David Coulthard to BBC Sport: “I’m expecting Massa to win the race and Hamilton to win the title. Hamilton is a great ambassador for British sport.”

* * * * *

1600: Everybody sitting comfortably? Got your supplies of beverages and comfort foods to hand? Perhaps it would be good to spend a penny before we actually depart…

We’ll be here, of course, and liveblogging anything of note.

Good luck, Lewis and McLaren!

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