It was, in the end, a day when everything went right for Kimi and wrong for Lewis, and nobody really bothered with the other bloke stuck in the middle.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton went into the Brazilian Grand Prix needing only a modest amount of success to win the world title – but even that proved beyond him and his team in a race crippled by early errors, mechanical problems and a disadvantageous pit strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen, in contrast, ensured the broadest grins would be worn in the Ferrari motor home by grabbing second at the start then driving a flawless race to the chequered flag – helped no end by his obliging team mate Felipe Massa.
The Brazilian, the only driver in the top four who couldn’t win the world title, looked the stronger of the two red cars but surrendered the lead before his home fans in the least suspicious manner possible, given that everyone at the circuit knew exactly what was going on.
Defending champion Fernando Alonso spent much of the race in positions that would have made him a three-time winner had the race been black-flagged there and then, but he had no hope of gaining the places necessary to counter Raikkonen’s inevitable assumption of the lead.
Instead, he temporarily lost third to BMW’s Robert Kubica and toiled on in unhappy anonymity, with the main question surrounding his race being whether he would let Hamilton through should the youngster’s charge through the field put him in range of the title.
Hamilton had qualified second, but lost places to both Raikkonen and Alonso at the first corner. His attempt to immediately re-take his team-mate led him to run wide off the track and he found himself suddenly on the fringes of the points battling with the Toyotas.
And his race quickly went from bad to worse, as a short-lived but crippling gearbox fault cost him 40 seconds in one lap and dropped him to 18th. From there on, the story of the race was whether he would be able to make it back up the field to the fifth place he’d need to beat Raikkonen to the title.
In the end, it proved too great a task. Hamilton succeeded in hauling himself into the points and within range of the cars he needed to overtake, but a final pit stop – making him one of the few drivers to stop three times – put him too far back.
Frustratingly, he completed his final few laps of an astonishing season stuck behind the two Ferraris, a lap down and staring at the gearboxes of the team that had proved both his and McLaren’s nemesis all season.