The 2007 F1 World Championship season has gone down as one of the most astonishing in history, although it eventually ended brilliantly for Ferrari and its tifosi. The action began on March 18 in Melbourne with a whole plethora of driver changes. Michael Schumacher had announced his retirement and was no longer in the Ferrari. His place was taken by Kimi Räikkönen, who had made the switch from McLaren, and was flanked by Felipe Massa. The British team featured World Champion Fernando Alonso paired up with a young hopeful who had just won the GP2 title, a certain Lewis Hamilton.
The season could not have gotten off to a better start for Räikkönen. The Finn won his maiden race for Ferrari, something only Juan Manuel Fangio, Luigi Musso, Giancarlo Baghetti, Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell had done before him. Thereafter, however, Ferrari and McLaren took turns on the top step of the podium. Alonso won in Malaysia and Monaco, while Massa triumphed in Bahrain and Spain. In Canada it was the turn of the prodigious Hamilton who then fended off all comers to repeat his feat in the US, winning huge admiration by moving to the top of the standings. Immediately after the Indianapolis grand prix, however, a controversy exploded that would dominate the entire summer: Ferrari discovered a sabotage attempt on one of its cars on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix. At the time, it was suspected that the culprit was someone on the team, but there was no clear idea why or who. What was certain was that a white powder was found near Räikkönen’s car – a substance that could have caused the Finn’s engine to seize. Next Ferrari discovered that designs and information had been stolen, and indications were that its rival McLaren was involved. In the championship, however, Kimi won in France and Great Britain, moving back up to under 20 points behind Hamilton in the standings. In Europe, however, he was forced to retire, and Alonso and Massa took centre stage, engaging quite literally in a wheel-to-wheel battle. In the end, the Spaniard held sway but Hamilton finished only ninth, throwing the championship race wide once again. The final European round took place in Belgium and featured a spectacular one-two finish from Ferrari. Hamilton was now leading on 97 points, two ahead of Alonso and 13 ahead of Räikkönen. Ferrari arrived at Fuji in Japan as Constructors’ World Champion. The FIA had made its final ruling on the espionage case, excluding McLaren from the Constructors’ standings and handing it a $100 million fine. Nothing changed, however, on the driver front and the battle for supremacy continued. Hamilton won in Japan and seemed to have the title in the bag as Alonso retired and Räikkönen was only third. Two races from the end of the season, rookie Hamilton held a 17-point lead with only 20 points up for grabs….
Seven days later in China, it was raining but the track would eventually start to dry off. All the teams donned intermediate tyres as they could be left on even after the rain stopped, potentially allowing the cars to stay out longer and cutting out a pit-stop. Räikkönen was on fire, clocking up one blisteringly fast lap after another until he was in Hamilton’s slipstream. The latter was leading the race and was in a position to control his championship lead. But Kimi nipped by the Englishman who then really started pushing in an attempt to get by the Ferrari. However, Hamilton’s right rear tyre started showing signs of severe wear and he was called back to the pits. As he entered the pit-lane, however, he slid off into the gravel and ended up retiring. Räikkönen won but was still seven points behind the leader. Alonso was ahead of the Finn, just four points behind Hamilton.
For the first time since 1986, three drivers were in contention for the title going into the final round of the season, although Hamilton only need to race to hold on. At the start, Massa took the lead in front of Räikkönen. In an attempt to block his team-mate Alonso, the rookie English driver went wide, dropping back to 10th position. A few laps later, the transmission in his
McLaren locked in neutral for 30 interminable seconds with only the car’s inertia keeping it moving. Hamilton was passed by the entire group before managing to get started again. He clawed his way back up through the pack and finished seventh. In the meantime, however, the Ferraris had swapped positions and the unbelievable happened: Räikkönen was World Champion, making him the ninth driver to win for Ferrari. The Prancing Horse now had 15 Drivers’ titles to its credit – and the same number of Constructors’ Cups. The tifosi had something to celebrate once again.