The black handbag with the diagonal shoulder strap, the usual jeans, the eternal frowning face. Fernando Alonso, the World Champion who succeeded in the arduous task of simultaneously being a clandestine tester of Ferrari secrets and key FIA witnesses against his McLaren, arrives late in the morning on Tuesday 9 October 2007 - in secret - at the courthouse of Modena as a witness in a criminal trial. Person informed on the facts, those of the Formula 1 spy story. Rented Mercedes car, driver hired at the airport, Fernando Alonso was taken together with his three lawyers (two Spanish and one lawyer from Bergamo) into the garage of the building in center of Modena. Then, with an internal lift he arrived one step away from the judicial police office. The deputy prosecutor Giuseppe Tibis was waiting for him there for the interrogation. Despite the through-ball scheme, at 12:30 p.m. Alonso was intercepted by the first judicial reporters, who then called photographers and colleagues around the office. The secret is gone. The Spanish driver spoke with the prosecutor for a couple of hours, in Italian. He explained the contours of the nasty emails received and written to his trusted test driver Pedro de la Rosa, his fellow countryman. On a sporting level, having lost the image of a clean champion, the Spaniard managed to maintain his virginity in the standings thanks to the FIA ruling which canceled McLaren's points, without affecting the drivers. Fernando Alonso collaborated, explained Max Mosley, the president of the International Federation, in Belgium. But in Modena, at lunchtime, the Spaniard had to describe the background of those e-mails which became an indictment and explain to prosecutor Tibis the levels of knowledge and collaboration of the McLaren top management with respect to the intellectual theft carried out in Ferrari by the pairing of unfaithful Stepney-Coughlan technicians. It should be remembered that six McLaren men (in addition to Nigel Stepney) are already under investigation for sporting fraud, embezzlement and revealing trade secrets. Among them is team principal Ron Dennis, who will soon be called to the prosecutor's office. In the next few days, meanwhile, Pedro de la Rosa, the tester, will arrive and his words will be the first test of the quality of Fernando Alonso's interrogation. Prosecutor Tibis says:
"We will listen to everyone who will be useful to us, the investigation continues".
It is possible that new notices of guarantee will appear within a few days, resulting from deeds to be carried out via letter rogatory with the English authorities. And on 21 December 2007 a decisive hearing was set for the alleged sabotage carried out by Nigel Stepney against a Ferrari car in the Maranello racing department: the famous white powder dropped into the tank. Fernando Alonso, who is fighting for the victory of the World Championship at the last race with four points behind his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, and three ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, had to listen to these words coming from the Shanghai hospitality mouth of its team principal, Ron Dennis:
"We are racing against Alonso, not against Ferrari".
They don't trust anymore. To ensure that on Sunday 21 October 2007, at Interlagos, McLaren effectively reserves identical treatment to its two drivers, separated by only four points in the standings, the FIA - requested by the Spanish federation - will send an inspector to the circuit with the exclusive task of establishing that there is no favoritism either for Lewis Hamilton (whose portrait on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia was sabotaged by a Mercedes employee, a Fernando Alonso fan) or for Fernando Alonso and above all for the latter, who increasingly insistent rumors give to Renault in 2008, nothing happens, especially in qualifying, given the situations that have arisen recently. F1's unfortunate year could only end like this: with a growing bad conscience. And if it were to end with Hamilton as champion, the English driver has already announced:
"I will pay homage to Senna's grave".
And it is incredible that even Ayrton Senna divides: Felipe Massa admitted:
"Senna? He denied me his autograph when I was eleven...".
On Tuesday 16 October 2007, a clear cut was given to long-term rumors and choices, in the most classic Ferrari style. Disturbing everyone, Felipe Massa's contract is extended, and therefore all the gossip that had been raging in the Formula 1 paddock for weeks is stopped. At Maranello they promoted the Brazilian for another two years, from 2008 to 2010. Who is now certain to stay at Ferrari one year longer than Kimi Raikkonen, whose agreement expires at the end of 2009. In reality he shouldn't have surprised no one, given that Jean Todt, in the recent past (the last time in the Japanese Grand Prix) had closed the issue in no uncertain terms.
"Our drivers for next season are the same as in 2007. There is a contract in place, and Ferrari respects the contracts".
Despite the verbal clarity of the managing director of the Maranello factory, the whispers regarding the driver market continued, involving Felipe Massa (who would have moved to another team) and Fernando Alonso (candidate to wear the red jersey). Game is over. From today no one has any more alibis, after the official announcement, which reads verbatim:
"Ferrari announces that it has extended the technical-competitive collaboration relationship with Felipe Massa until the end of the 2010 racing season".
The week that will end with the Brazilian Grand Prix, decisive for Formula 1 in 2007, therefore begins with a bang, and the message from Ferrari behind the news itself (the renewal of a contract) is also very clear, which could have been calmly postponed until the end of the World Championship: no longer dare we continue to pollute the internal environment, to try to destabilize it with baseless rumours. So here is the countermove, with full trust in a driver, Felipe Massa, who drove a Ferrari in thirty-four Grands Prix, obtaining five victories. The Brazilian then achieved sixteen podiums and finished in the points in another twenty-five races. His statistics say that he has earned eight pole positions, for a total of 166 points. The confirmation is well deserved and, with a little more reliability in the car, he would also be in the running to challenge for the title of World Champion. The reactions are not long in coming, and concern above all those who follow Fernando Alonso carefully, i.e. the Spanish press, who immediately interpret the announcement as a definitive renunciation of the Maranello team to the driver. For the World Champion the options are now reduced to two teams, Renault (most likely) or Toyota (if he seeks new challenges). But with the renewal of Felipe Massa, the possibility of a one-year sabbatical no longer exists. For the Spaniard, an additional reason for stress.
"It will be an exciting race".
Kimi Raikkonen has no doubts, his Ferrari is ready for the impossible task, giving him a world title, despite the fact that in the exciting world championship sprint the Finn plays the part of the third wheel, less favorite than Lewis Hamilton, who has a seven-point advantage, and of Fernando Alonso, who may be afraid of a boycott by McLaren, but still remains ahead of the Finnish driver by three points. Kimi Raikkonen, who is celebrating his twenty-eighth birthday in Sao Paulo, is in the worst situation, but the ranking doesn't depress him at all.
"I'm ready to go for broke, to give battle, in the hope that the Ferrari is the same as in Shanghai, a perfect car, which allowed me to achieve my first career success in China".
Even in Brazil it would be a first time and the victory, beyond the importance for the World Championship, would also have significant statistical value, given that so far in Interlagos the Finn has achieved three second places. Kimi Raikkonen especially remembers the one from 2003.
"Initially I won, I kept the trophy at home for a few days, then the commissioners changed the finishing order and awarded the victory to Fisichella".
It was the famous Sunday of torrential rain, of the race interrupted due to too much danger, of Michael Schumacher who with his Ferrari slipped on a puddle at the Curva del Sole (bizarre name with that deluge) and almost hit a crane head-on . Raikkonen thought he had triumphed but instead in the following Grand Prix, at Imola, the trophy passed into the hands of Fisichella. The places of honor in 2004 and 2005 are less daring, simple silver medals that give points, but not glory, and which on Sunday will absolutely not be enough. In fact, Kimi Raikkonen has only one hope of climbing to the top of the world: winning the race and dragging Felipe Massa with him, fresh from extending his contract with the Maranello team until 2010. Only a Ferrari double can give substance to the hope, automatically cutting from the Fernando Alonso fight (he could at most take home the six points for third place and find himself behind Kimi Raikkonen by one point) and by putting pressure on Lewis Hamilton, who feels stronger than the others, but knows that in case of success Finnish should place at least fifth. Kimi, who at the end of the season is the driver who has scored the most points, with an explosive progression that began in the first days of July, and who is currently the one who has brought home the most successes (five), aware of his excellent moment of form is not willing to accept anything other than triumph. To achieve this, he even gave up a birthday in style, preferring concentration and sobriety.
"I haven't organized anything special for my party, I expect the real gift on Sunday afternoon. After China I spent a few days in Dubai to recuperate: there is a fantastic climate there in this period. I know I'm not the favourite, but China has taught us that in Formula 1 anything can happen. We couldn't do much to prepare for Brazil other than simulation and data analysis work. Let's hope that everything is in order for a particularly challenging track also due to the numerous bumps: I know that the asphalt has been redone but we have to see what the result will be. As for the engine, it must give its all, because it will be under great strain on the long climb that leads to the finish line".
The curse of second places doesn't faze him in the slightest.
"Even in China I often came close to winning and the taboo was finally dispelled. Maybe history repeats itself".
Nor does he show any fear of his two McLaren opponents. Before Japan he had said:
"They are the ones who have everything to lose and can suffer from the pressure, not me. They've been chasing the title all year, losing it in the sprint would be atrocious. I, on the other hand, am making a comeback, but I have never led the standings".
If these were his words before Fuji, let's imagine now that he is really breathing down our necks.
"The fact that both are fighting and that there are not good relations between them could favor me. However, I don't expect gifts, I will try to do everything myself. Without calculations"
Only Felipe Massa will ask for a little help. Celebrate the extended contract in style. Finishing ahead of the two McLarens. At the same time, the question posed to Lewis Hamilton in Sao Paulo is blunt: have you ever thought about the idea of not winning? The answer is equally peremptory:
Decisive tone, great self-confidence, belief that he fits well with his extremely relaxed face. Yet Hamilton, a terrible rookie, is returning from the disaster in Shanghai, his car ending up in the gravel, he being forced to postpone his world championship dream.
"It was a hard blow".
But not enough to undermine his image of the perfect man, the predestined driver, the rookie who makes history, because never in Formula 1 had a person hit the mark in his first year. Lewis Hamilton is solid in his confidence, to the point of seeming boastful, while Alonso and Raikkonen, the other two protagonists of the exciting Brazilian sprint, compete in talking about an arduous, complicated, impossible undertaking. Kimi Raikkonen, as we know, is a man without verbal outbursts. The expression on his face is always the same, imperturbable, whether he is talking about his birthday or the possible world championship goal, but the feeling is that at least at the start he doesn't believe much in the miracle, unless, and then he succeeds Very well, the objective is not to hide, to compress one's own desires and to avoid warning one's opponents. Raikkonen, in his sighs, disarms:
"Here in Brazil we should be strong, I would like to win at Interlagos after finishing second three times, but the road to the title is very complicated. It would take Hamilton to retire again and he, apart from China, has always reached the finish line".
If that wasn't enough, teammate Felipe Massa also contributed to the pessimism.
"In my head there is a desire to win the Grand Prix. Of course, I'm ready to help Raikkonen, but I think his chances are very slim, so probably my ride will be clear and I will be able to celebrate the extension of the contract"
A singular way to ignite the enthusiasm of Ferrari fans. But not even Fernando Alonso shines with confidence.
"Interlagos is my lucky circuit, I won the World Championship here twice, but I always showed up at the top of the standings, a placing was enough for me, I could be cautious, while now I will have to be aggressive, take a lot of risks, starting from the first corner, which is very dangerous here. I have no choice, the only hope is victory and it might not be enough".
Luckily there is Lewis Hamilton. He looks down on everyone, not just in the rankings, even in speeches.
"It will be a tough weekend, but I'm ready to reach the big finish line. A historic victory, because an English rider hasn't won the title for many years. And I hope that my nation can also rejoice in the rugby success with South Africa"
Chauvinistic, as his majesty's subjects like. And without fear.
"My mind is fresh, I don't feel the pressure in any way. I have never gone to a psychologist, my approach to this race will be the same as always. It was a season worth remembering, I hope the ending is in line with everything else".
In short, as the great Nigel Mansell says:
"Hamilton will win, because the fairy tale can't end badly".
Another illustrious ex, Michael Schumacher, has an opposite opinion, whom Bernie Ecclestone officially regrets, saying that Formula 1 still needs him a lot. German will not be present in Brazil:
"But from home I'll keep my fingers crossed for Raikkonen".
And Fernando Alonso? It seems that he will go to Renault, that he has already signed a two-year contract and that McLaren will get Heikki Kovalainen as compensation. In the Friday practice session, the Ferrari drivers topped the timesheet with Kimi Räikkönen leading the first practice in the wet session. In the second practice session, Lewis Hamilton led McLaren to a 1-2 finish, with the track improving over time. Stewards fined McLaren, Honda and Super Aguri €15.000 each for tyre rule infringement. Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato used two sets of wet tyres, more than the one set permitted during the first practice. In addition, each driver had to surrender one set of wet tyres to avoid gaining any advantage. The morning rain ruined the initial plans of all the teams, and the riders drove for the pure pleasure of getting to know the track. Nothing else: for other advantages, such as getting an idea on the strategy for the race, you have to wait until the last free practice session. The first day of the Brazilian Grand Prix was useful for those behind the scenes, the track engineers, who try to collect information, data that could possibly be useful. Fernando Alonso has no problem saying that ultimately the day didn't give him what he expected, but the two Ferrari drivers also make the same reasoning. In the morning it was the Ferrari that was fastest, in the drizzle. But in the afternoon the two Mclarens returned to form, setting the two best times, with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth, right at the end of practice. Felipe Massa says:
"Well, in the morning the asphalt wasn't perfect. Then, as the track dried out, the times started to drop and towards the end there were interesting times. Considering the track conditions it's impossible to say how we feel about McLaren, or how they feel about us. It's difficult to say who has a tenth of an advantage over the other".
According to Kimi Raikkonen, the situation seems even worse.
"It's a little too early to say how things are going. I'm certainly not very happy with my tests: there was a bit of traffic, and the conditions weren't easy".
The Brazilian driver still supports him psychologically, as he has nothing to lose and could play an important role on Sunday.
"It must also be said that the track was drying out and therefore we were improving with each lap".
But Felipe Massa is keen to underline that his criticisms are not of the asphalt of the circuit, which is new, but of the fact that it remained damp due to the rain.
"We always complain, but this time I have to say that they were good: the asphalt is excellent, an excellent job was done".
Technically the matter is different:
"It was a strange day, we were there but then again, it's difficult to say how we fare compared to McLaren".
On the Hamilton case and the prison tyres, Kimi Raikkonen prefers to evade diplomatically:
"Oh yes? I don't know anything”.
Leaving Felipe Massa the taste of provocation:
"What will happen? Nothing, as always”.
There's no point in asking for predictions on qualifications and the race. Returning to the hopes for winning the World Drivers' Championship, the last word comes from Ferrari's CEO, Jean Todt:
"Sunday will be very difficult for Raikkonen, but we want to try".
Todt then makes a premise, recognizing the merits of the current young leader, Lewis Hamilton:
"He is a very fast rider and is the favourite. But we also know that anything can happen in Formula 1. We really saw it in the last race. This is why we will fight until the end".
There is never an end to the poisons, even the last chapter of the most troubled season in the history of Formula 1 is colored yellow. Lewis Hamilton closed the first day of free practice setting the best time, 0.122 seconds better than Fernando Alonso, 0.308 seconds faster than Felipe Massa, 0.345 seconds than Kimi Raikkonen. But his day is torture, lived with the uncertainty of a possible sanction, because his beloved team, McLaren, made a mistake in supplying him with tires in the first round of testing, the one in the morning. He made him use two standard sets of wet tires, instead of just one as per the regulations, leading him to infringe article 25 paragraph 3. The rule is clear: a driver can use up to four sets of dry tires during a testing session, one for standard wet and one for extreme wet. It is precisely this last set that is missing on Lewis Hamilton's car (and also on those of Jenson Button and Takuma Sato), McLaren got confused, mixed up the tires and instead of letting him try the deluge one they installed him for the second time the wet asphalt type. A mistake that the team immediately recognized. McLaren team principal Ron Dennis explains:
"We work hard, we are very focused on this final sprint, a mistake can happen. It was an involuntary mistake".
And adds Lewis Hamilton:
"An easy mistake to make but innocent with all the rules there are. And he didn't give us any advantage".
It is not demonstrable that Lewis really did not benefit from it, however he acquired parameters and data in a quantity that he could not have obtained; however, the certainty remains that the regulation has been violated, but the English driver, helped by the lack of precedent, once again manages not to be punished. In fact, in the evening, after the driver was questioned for about a quarter of an hour by the judges, here was the sentence: no sanctions, just a fine of 15,000 euros to McLaren. In addition, Lewis Hamilton will be deprived of a set of tyres: between wet and dry he will be able to use 13 and not 14, but this is a minor change compared to what was rumoured, with the possible reduction of five positions in the starting grid which will be established on Saturday , or the increase of his best qualifying time by one or more seconds (last year Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher in Budapest were given a 2 second increase). These penalties would have made his journey very complicated; the fine instead only further empties McLaren's coffers. The Dennis line triumphs, as he predicted:
"There could be a fine, but such carelessness cannot affect the fight for the world title".
And in some ways also that of Bernie Ecclestone:
"Hamilton deserves the title, it's a shame he isn't Jewish or Muslim, he would generate even more audiences".
With a piqued response from Luca Montezemolo:
"Bernie would be better off saying it's a scandal that two drivers can win the World Championship with a car that cheated and was excluded from the World Constructors' Championship".
A team which, however, thanks to the untouchable Hamilton, in one way or another always manages to limit the damage. Saturday, October 20, 2007, the first session of qualifying saw the two Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto plus the two Super Aguris of Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson eliminated, along with Kazuki Nakajima, who was making his debut in the Williams, replacing the retiring Alexander Wurz. Heikki Kovalainen also went out in the Renault. In session two, the two Hondas of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button and the two Toro Rossos of Sebastian Vettel and Vitantonio Liuzzi went out along with Giancarlo Fisichella in his last race for Renault and Ralf Schumacher in the last race of his career in the Toyota. Nico Rosberg made the top ten for Williams, and qualified on row 5 alongside Red Bull's David Coulthard. They lined up just behind Jarno Trulli in the Toyota and Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber. Kubica's teammate Nick Heidfeld was sixth, and Mark Webber took 5th in the second Red Bull. McLaren took 2nd and 4th, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton ahead of Fernando Alonso. Their fellow championship contender Kimi Räikkönen qualified third, while his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa took the ninth pole position of his career at his home Grand Prix. But at the end there is yet another controversy. Ferrari accuses Lewis Hamilton of incorrect behavior for returning to the track and, as soon as he left the pit lane, not slowing down while Kimi Raikkonen's car passed. Ferrari sporting director Stefano Domenicali says:
"Are the images clear? We hope they are clear for the stewards too. We just want to know if the stewards are evaluating Hamilton's behaviour".
But then nothing happens. There is no FIA investigation. Furthermore, Ferrari decides not to lodge a complaint.
"The stewards said that the episode was not worthy of investigation so for us to make a complaint would have been sterile and a waste of time. The team, however, will do everything it can to win the world title".
Meanwhile Felipe Massa enjoys first place on the starting grid:
"It's a great emotion, starting in pole position on my home track is special".
And he confirms that Ferrari still hopes to regain the title:
"There is very little difference between us and McLaren, our car works perfectly. The F2007 performed at the top on a track that has been done impeccably".
Lewis Hamilton was also satisfied, despite missing pole:
Says the British driver, referring to the fact that he won the first duel with the other title contenders given that Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will start from the second row.
"It was a pleasure to drive a perfect car. I did a great lap, maybe I lost a bit of time at the last corner. I may have lost a tenth or two, but beyond that everything was great".
And on the prospects for the race he says:
"Could it be a special day? Many people tell me, I haven't thought about it yet and I don't want to think about it. Now I feel calm and relaxed. I hope to celebrate, obviously. But I also hope that the public can have fun".
Alonso, on the other hand, does not hide his regret:
"Very disappointing. I just have to think about tomorrow, an impossible race awaits me. Nothing new, I started the fast lap with only three seconds left to go...".
It could only end like this. Even the eve of Judgment Day, which will decide who will be the World Champion driver in the most troubled season in the history of Formula 1, is colored yellow. Once again, Lewis Hamilton is involved, the great predestined, the man who will probably become a legend, the first rookie to win the championship on his debut, the Englishman destined to return the title to His Majesty's subjects after eleven years, since 1996 in which Damon Hill triumphed. Once again it is he, so good and so protected by the FIA, who is under investigation, the driver who in seven months has lost all his candour, who has taken victories, pole positions and points, who with his behavior on the track has received an infinite amount of applause, but also of criticism, that first he makes a mistake and then he apologizes, that he is never punished by the race commissioners, that he always manages to get away with it, to the point of having compared the terrible freshman praise with the epithet of great unpleasantness.
He is the big favorite in the three-way sprint for the World Championship scepter; he will start on the front row ahead of rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, but his race could have been tremendously more complicated if the judges had deemed it appropriate to sanction him for having flagrantly obstructed the Ferrari Finn. Lewis Hamilton stopped in front of him, he swears he didn't see him, but in the meantime he slowed him down, made him lose almost 0.3 seconds (as Ferrari detected through telemetry), let him pass only when Kimi Raikkonen had already taken the the curve. Other drivers have been punished for much less, but he hasn't. The race commissioners decided that it wasn't even worth investigating, that there was no malice involved in the episode, that it could be archived as a normal episode of ordinary qualification, that an investigation would be useless and a possible complaint from the furious Ferrari absolutely sterile. Pictures in hand, there was no reason to intervene. The three judges immediately let the men of the Maranello team know, effectively forcing them to give up any protest. Ferrari would have jumped at it, they had half an hour after the end of qualifying to launch the attack, but faced with such a closure they preferred to let the deadline expire and put a stop to it.
This does not change the fact that the doubt remains, if Lewis Hamilton's now bad reputation was not enough, it is the precedents, even recent ones, that give substance to controversies and poisons. Fernando Alonso last year in Monza, for having disturbed Felipe Massa, was deprived of the three best qualifying times, with the result that he went from fifth to tenth place on the grid, not to mention Michael Schumacher, probably guilty towards Fernando Alonso in Monte-Carlo for parking his car in a dangerous spot, but was relegated from first to last place on the starting grid. For Lewis Hamilton none of this. He has the power to rewrite history, as he will do in the event of a world championship triumph; It matters little if Ferrari is furious (apart from the joy of Felipe Massa's deserved pole position) and understands that Kimi Raikkonen, with his third place, risks having lost his last chances. Moreover, after the denunciation of alleged boycotts by Fernando Alonso, to avoid privileges for Lewis Hamilton by McLaren, the FIA was also forced to invent the federal sentry in the pits. Carlos Funes, from Argentina, was very alert; but perhaps it only brought bad luck to Fernando Alonso, given that the Spaniard will start in fourth place and considers himself left out. Not since 1986 has a World Championship been decided with a three-man sprint: today history repeats itself, but the impression is that the winner is already written. Announced. And unpunished.
"I didn't see it, I didn't see it right away. The mirrors vibrated. Then I focused on it and it was already very close. I moved: it was all I could do".
What hell surrounds Lewis Hamilton, now openly accused of being a recommended person, protected by the judges, favored by the masters of the great circus. But it's not the grim eyes of those who point the accusing finger at him as soon as he gets out of his car that make Lewis Hamilton lose his composure. The last pole position hunt of the year has just ended; second place alongside Felipe Massa belongs to him, the opponents who count are behind. And this gives him the smile, with which he opposes the tangle of suspicions, the accusations, all that speak of impropriety and await punishment. He is happy, he doesn't hide it, he feels above all suspicion, he defends himself:
"I feel like an honest person, I will win honestly. The other day it was the team that made a mistake with the tyres. Today I didn't do anything wrong with Raikkonen. I simply did my job. If I hindered him I can only apologize to him".
Serene as someone who feels victory in his hands, now that the last move has been made in the right way.
"I'm happy, I've taken an important step towards the title”.
Kimi Raikkonen, the injured party, is certainly not the type of person to add fuel to the fire.
"I actually wasted some time. Patience, it's gone now. I'm third. It's important that Felipe is in front, even if it's clear that if I had been first it would have been better. But I'm optimistic, I'm satisfied with the car".
Cold Kimi is not one for fights. After all, it doesn't seem like the team is pushing him into combat. Felipe Massa enjoys the triumph of a pole position in front of his people, the roar with which he was just greeted filled his heart and mind.
"An immense joy".
The fight for the World Championship victory isn't his thing. But from Ferrari they let it be known that the damage to Kimi Raikkonen is not an impression. But there is no official complaint, only complaints and many grumbles given to the paddock chatter. The disappointment of the person concerned is closed in a few detached words:
"Maybe Lewis didn't do his best to let me pass easily".
While Ron Dennis cuddles Lewis:
"Good, now everything is in his hands".
Niki Lauda is on his side, harshly rejecting the idea of a mistake by the Englishman:
"It was perhaps a borderline situation, but not unfair. I'm surprised that they say that Raikkonen lost two tenths there. Hamilton didn't interfere".
Thus the last dose of poisons of a season that ended up too many times in the hands of wavering judges, slips onto the angriest of the company, that Fernando Alonso who ended up in a corner, clinging to himself and his grudges, to too many revenges.
"In Monza, a year ago, I was penalized for a similar episode. It was certainly not a clear situation, but I was penalized. Now we'll see how good these commissioners will be".
A few steps away, father Josè Luis laughs, with the air of someone who knows how it will end:
"A fine, you will see that they will give him a thousand euro fine. A slap, or worse, a mockery".
Fernando Alonso's disappointment at this point is enormous, fourth place is not what was needed, all that remains is to hope for fate:
"Even in China it seemed that my fourth place was bad, but instead Hamilton stopped. All that remains is to wait for the race, so many things always happen that you can't imagine. One hope is that Hamilton doesn't end".
But the judges don't stop the Englishman's run, as they tried to do with him.
"These race officials are too unpredictable. I did what I could and I'm disappointed. This fourth place is not the best thing that could have happened to me when thinking about the championship. We will see. Maybe this four brings good luck".
Sunday 21 October 2007, at the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was passed by Kimi Räikkönen. The Briton gets distracted and also allows his teammate, Fernando Alosno, to pass. Lewis Hamilton, in the throes of blind fury, tries to counterattack in turn 4, but ends up wide and drops to eighth place. Behind the top three, Mark Webber, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld follow. Lewis Hamilton passes Jarno Trulli at the first corner of the second lap and rises to seventh place. After a few laps the Englishman also passes Nick Heidfeld while Robert Kubica passes Mark Webber. Suddenly, during the eighth lap, the Englishman's McLaren slows down due to a gearbox problem, perhaps due to an error by the driver himself, losing about thirty seconds and slipping to eighteenth place. In the meantime, the Ferraris were in the lead, the only ones to regularly lap 1'13"0, taking a good advantage over Fernando Alonso, who was at that moment virtually leader of the World Championship, even if, in reality, not the master of the own destiny. The first series of refueling of the leaders was opened by Felpe Massa during lap 20, followed by Kimi Räikkönen during lap 21, and by the two McLarens during lap 22. Lewis Hamilton, who thanks to numerous overtakings climbed back to tenth place, also thanks to the withdrawal of Mark Webber, drops back to fourteenth place. The Englishman uses little fuel, fitting Soft tyres, which, as often happened during the year, seem to only work on the Ferrari. During lap 32 Robert Kubica passes Fernando Alonso; the Pole proceeds with a three-stop strategy, like Lewis Hamilton, who in fact returns to the pits halfway through the race while in ninth position. Returning to the track, the Englishman was lapped by the two Ferraris, but above all his gap from fifth position did not decrease appreciably. During lap 50 Felipe Massa carries out the second refueling; the three extra laps allow Kimi Räikkönen the decisive exchange of positions in the world championship. Fernando Alonso is alone in third.
After the third refueling, Lewis Hamilton returns to the track in ninth position and immediately passes David Coulthard, also setting the fastest lap. The hope for the Englishman lies in the heated battle for positions from fourth to sixth which involves, in order, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica. During lap 60 Nico Rosberg forcefully enters the inside of Nick Heidfeld at the first corner, forcing him to go wide and favoring Robert Kubica's double overtaking. At the end the Pole, in crisis with the Soft tyres, was overtaken by Nico Rosberg, while Lewis Hamilton rose to seventh place when Jarno Trulli in turn made his third stop a few laps from the end, but remained about ten seconds by Nick Heidfeld. Kimi Raikkonen wins the Brazilian Grand Prix, followed by Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Nico Rosberg is fourth, followed in turn by Robert Kubica, Hick Heidfeld, Lewis Hamilton and Jarno Trulli. The Sunday of the verdicts offers a heart-breaking race, overwhelming the rankings and predictions. It transforms the last race of the year into the most beautiful race, going beyond the imaginable with a spectacular display of twists and emotions, and crowns Ferrari's absolute triumph. Twists and turns that last until late at night: Williams and BMW have something wrong with their fuel, they are under investigation, if they were to be disqualified, the world title would be back in question. Indeed it would return to the favourite: Lewis Hamilton. But before this further emotion Kimi Raikkonen sprints first and is World Champion. Felipe Massa is second with a lump in his throat, Fernando Alonso uselessly third, witness to an epilogue that leaves him only with the bitter taste of revenge at home, on the day of Lewis Hamilton's incredible collapse. The baby that McLaren had made its king on his debut, abandoned by good fortune on the most important day. On the Interlagos track, fiery and ferocious roulette, the most difficult combination came out, in an afternoon that Lewis Hamilton started as a champion before entering a race full of errors, by him and his team. He didn't do it right from the first meter, from going off the track to the third corner. He paid a very high price for his inexperience: finishing fifth would have been enough for him to retain the title.
Then the gearbox betrayed him, he stopped just long enough to leave the track clear for his rivals, and then set off again in a desperate hunt for the impossible. The last act of this World Championship drowned in poisons and mountains of stamped papers seals, at least with nocturnal reversals, the triumph of Ferrari, which in the end wins everything: world title for constructors and drivers, with a final double. In front of a delirious audience, despite that inevitable second place for Felipe Massa, who had collected his prize only a few days earlier with a golden contract, and not exactly inevitable. Kimi Raikkonen's brilliant victory and Lewis Hamilton's exit smack of a superior plan, it is an event that escapes the strategies of the teams, the skill of the men, it becomes the crazy crossroads of something that only the Ferrari fan could imagine. But Ferrari went in search of its great triumph, making a perfect start, where Felipe Massa achieved an impeccable sprint that stunned Lewis Hamilton. The Briton who at the decisive moment hesitated in the face of a victory that was already his. The balances jump in a matter of seconds, as soon as the traffic lights go out. Felipe Massa darts to the left, is ahead of Lewis Hamilton while Kimi Raikkonen climbs to the outside and goes to take second position, but it's not over: Hamilton is stunned and Alonso also slips inside and is third. Here the Englishman collapses, instead of reasoning he seeks an immediate reply, it is instinct that guides him, not genius. He ends up long, has to widen and drops to eighth place. Eyes wide open, heart pounding, for seventy-one laps there will be no time to think. Fisichella swerves, returns in front of Yamamoto who crashes on top of him, among a thousand wrecks. Hamilton passes Trulli, is seventh, the race is still in his hands. The eighth lap arrives, perhaps Lewis begins to see everything clearer, but instead the gearbox jams, the McLaren slows down, the others pass him. But a brutal afternoon awaits Hamilton: everything is back in order in the car, but eighteenth place is a black hole. The chase begins, Dennis chooses the three stops to leave the light car, it is McLaren's last mistake. Lewis Hamilton will arrive too late. In front the two Ferraris fly, at the second pit stop the sacrifice of Felipe Massa takes place, Kimi Raikkonen flies towards triumph, but the balance remains fragile, twice everything can overturn, with Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica who touch each other and risk the accident that would put the title back in the hands of Lewis Hamilton. Then it's just the red triumph. Not even on top of the world makes an exception to the rule. He's probably holding back. Every now and then a smile escapes him, but he holds it back, so as not to let people think of a cheerful, cheerful, expansive Kimi Raikkonen. Yet he achieved the feat, he accomplished the miracle, he is World Champion. Raikkonen, but is he happy?
"To die for, why can't he be seen? I'm happy to have won in my first year at Ferrari, I'm happy to have triumphed with this team, a great family, a team that made me love Formula 1 even more. Because at Ferrari you never give up, no one ever gives up. give up. When you make a mistake, you never look back, just as you don't get excited in the good moments. We always believed we could recover, even after Indianapolis, when the disadvantage was enormous. We knew we were strong. The strongest".
In the last race you achieved perfection.
"Here in Brazil we dominated, McLaren was unable to resist our race pace. I have to thank Massa, he has done an excellent job all season and would have deserved to win the race. He was good at the start, excellent speed throughout the race. I was close behind him, I could have even attacked him, but we agreed that there would be no fight between us. The team knew how to behave, we had everything planned. If Hamilton was behind, if Alonso was third, if the two of us were in front, we would have won the World Championship".
What did you think when they warned you on the radio that everything was moving in this direction?
"I just thought about not making mistakes, staying focused, finishing the race. Hamilton was seventh, he only needed two overtakes and our dream would have ended. I want to be honest: I wasn't convinced I was world champion, not even when I crossed the finish line. It took me a while to realize the situation".
Will this triumph change his life?
"In theory no, it might not change it. Perhaps the judgment that people have of me will change, their esteem for me will increase. Or maybe they will say even more nonsense about me, as there is already so much said. I will be even more in the spotlight, but I will try to remain a normal person. In this respect Alonso could help me. He has already won and hasn't changed. His character is always the same, a spontaneous person".
How do you feel about having won immediately with Maranello? Only Fangio and Scheckter had succeeded.
"It makes me very happy. At the beginning I had some problems fitting in, adapting my work to that of the team. We started strong, I won the first race in Australia and I could say that we finished as we started, with a first place. In reality, the first few months were tough, but the team never let me lack its trust. This is an amazing team. Yes, I can say it: I love Ferrari. Did you want a verbal outburst from me? I let myself go, are you happy?"
Above all, the Ferrari fans are beaming. After the spy story, does this triumph do justice?
"I think so. It was right that we won. Although justice is perhaps not the right word. It's difficult to talk about that story, a complicated story, an ugly story, which is better left behind forever”.
Have you often been called an unlucky driver?
"I know my fame, but I never gave it any weight. I don't believe in fate, luck or bad luck, but only in hard work. Of course, here in Brazil I also needed the help of others. Massa gave it to me and in some way Hamilton too".
You know what else they say about her, that if you have to indulge in a drink, you don't hold back. Will the World Championship be a wild party?
"I don't think so in the heat. We have a long journey home to face. More likely next week, at Mugello. When there is Ferrari day".
Was the decisive moment overtaking Hamilton at the first corner?
"I expected that, we have an excellent starting system this year. I could also have attacked Massa, but it wouldn't have made any sense. The key was Hamilton's gearbox problems, which dropped him to eighteenth place. Everything went in the right direction, the miracle could become reality. Twice more I had come close to winning the World Championship and almost missed the feat. With this triumph I make everything right".
Ferrari thanks you.
"I also thank you. Winning here is nicer".
A World Championship won twice. Because Kimi Raikkonen's joy had suddenly stopped at 6:00 p.m., when the cars of Nico Rosberg (Williams), Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld (two BMWs), finishing ahead of Lewis, came under investigation for irregular fuel temperatures Hamilton. If the three had been disqualified, the McLaren driver would have jumped to fourth place, winning the World Championship. The judges, finding the fuel temperature measurement system flawed, decided not to intervene. The petrol of the three was outside the limit which provides for a maximum of 10 °C lower than the ambient temperature. The measurement is carried out at the pit stop, with a sensor on the petrol dispenser: Rosberg's at the first stop was 24 °C, at the second 25 °C, Kubica's was 23 °C, 24 °C and 24 respectively °C, Heidfeld's of 24 °C and 25 °C, all values outside the norm, the ambient temperature being 37 °C. Colder petrol gives the engine more power. There was a precedent from 1995, again in Brazil, with Michael Schumacher (Benetton) and David Coulthard (Williams): points were deducted from the teams, not the drivers. Now, however, the judges do not touch the ranking. The liberating cry arrives at 9:50 p.m., in Sao Paulo. Stefano Domenicali, the regulations expert, is exhausted by the endless discussion in front of the judges, but he has the important news in hand, Kimi Raikkonen's world title is safe, the race commissioners will not disqualify Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg, the ranking cannot be touched. Stefano Domenicali screams, devouring in long strides the ladder that separates him from the paddock, all the Ferrari men, the managers and the mechanics who were left in the pits waiting for news, immediately understand. Many go towards him, embrace him, it is a heavy net, there is no limit to the celebration. Jean Todt is no longer inside the motorhome, he left two hours earlier, he is waiting for good news on the phone, the two drivers are not there, but all the others are there, celebrating like crazy. Stefano Domenicali, in perfect Ferrari style, rallies the team. Brief speech, to explain the reasons for the judges' decision, and then off, the party can explode. Kimi Raikkonen was at dinner, more tense than ever. They warn him, tell him to rush to the Jockey Club, the São Paulo racecourse, an exclusive club in the Morumbi district, the same one that houses Ayrton Senna's tomb, which Ferrari has requisitioned for its 200 guests. In an instant they are all there, it is now late in the evening, the traffic is more lenient, the dancing can start, with the samba taking center stage, Felipe Massa taking the stage and dragging the cold Kimi Raikkonen along, as he had done a few hours earlier on the track, Rubens Barrichello who no longer has the Ferrari suit, but is a guest and willingly throws himself into the wild atmosphere. He eats, drinks, but everything remains quite sober. Jean Todt shows up quickly, just to congratulate everyone, a plane awaits him to take him back to Europe immediately. The Frenchman repeats to the group what he had said immediately after the race.
"It was a dream, it turned into a superb victory. Thanks to a great team, which will be even stronger next year".
In his words there is an echo of those pronounced in Italy by the top of the Ferrari world. Starting from the CEO of the Fiat Group, Sergio Marchionne:
"In life there are very rare moments in which a manager is faced with an organization that is moving perfectly. Yesterday was one of those. My colleagues and I look at Ferrari with admiration".
Same tenor of triumphal days, for Luca Montezemolo who confides:
"I was sure that they would win the Grand Prix already on Friday, because the team was doing a fantastic job. Then after the first corner I understood that we would also win the World Championship".
But in Jean Todt's words there is above all an echo of those of Michael Schumacher, someone who knows how to touch the heart of the team:
"It was such a beautiful victory that it's really a shame for me not to be there to celebrate with the whole team".
Once the speech is over, and Jean Todt has been greeted appropriately, he starts again with the party. Until 2:00 a.m., when someone thinks it's time to go to sleep. However, not Kimi Raikkonen, who with part of the team moved to the party organized by Red Bull Racing, in the most exclusive nightclub in Sao Paulo. Maybe it's the particular atmosphere, Red Bull Racing always celebrates the closing of the World Championship in style, but there are no limits anymore. Damn if anyone ever brings up the story of Kimi Raikkonen drinking again. He is now World Champion, at least for today he can afford everything. On his first day in Maranello, on a cold day in January, Kimi Raikkonen promised that he would learn Italian quickly. Nice thing, the fans thought, unlike Michael Schumacher who took forever to warm hearts with a few phrases in Italian. Kimi Raikkonen has not kept his word, only whispered English remains of him, even if the mechanics guarantee that he has now fit in perfectly, that he is a great teammate, that he has fun and entertains, he cements the group, just like his predecessor , Michael Schumacher. Of course, you can't ask him to play football. He does it, he tried, but the results are very far from the track. However, he could reply: why don't we play ice hockey? Finland is one of the cradles of this sport, he is a great fan, who becomes a wild fan when his national team plays, and the proposal would be more than provocative. Because he is not just any player, he arrived on the threshold of the Finnish Serie A, he would certainly have made it if he had shown more consistency in training. But when you ask him if he has any regrets, he is disarming in this too:
"It wasn't worth it, I would never have made it, to go to training you have to wake up too early in the morning, an impossible task"
As if running in the car were a walk in the park, as if the tests only took place in the afternoon, as if it could always wake us up at midday. The truth is that his true passion was four wheels, his father Matti understood this ever since the boy Kimi ruined his home garden with his kart. He hasn't made it in ice hockey, he hasn't learned Italian yet, but a world champion can be forgiven for everything, even never allowing himself when it comes to talking about his feelings, expressing his feelings, at the cost of appear to be a whisperer or, even worse, a ventriloquist. And then what does Ferrari care? They, paying him his weight in gold, almost 30.000.000 euros per season until December 2009, did not hire a television presenter, but a driver who runs like the wind and who years ago Schumacher, at the first glance on the track of Mugello, with Kimi Raikkonen aboard a Sauber, he immediately judged his true heir. He told Montezemolo who believed it. He told this to Todt, who shelved the heavy praise. It was no small recommendation and it was therefore no surprise that a few years later the cold Finn found himself dressed in red. Now that he has risen to the top of the world, he will probably be a little less afraid to make himself known. The Italian fans admired him until now, soon they will start to adore him and he will have to give himself up. He will thus say that he loves pasta and Italian food in general, that he has always had Ferrari in his heart, given that for some time, long before signing for Maranello, he kept a red Gran Turismo in the garage. He will make it known that one can also be similar to Michael Schumacher, but not in the horrible passion for apple juice. The pineapple one is much better. And if super Michael, once World Champion, allowed himself a cigar, why shouldn't he have a drink, without having to defend himself from easy moralisms? If someone continues to be scandalized anyway, he will shrug his shoulders and sit down in an armchair with a nice Mickey Mouse. Yes, the Walt Disney comic is his favorite. Busy reading? Probably not, but definitely fun. And capable of relaxing. As he always loves to be. On the eve of the Brazilian Grand Prix he said:
"I won't make it, it would take a miracle".
Afterwards she said:
"The miracle has happened".
So, with simplicity. In a low voice. And crazy speed. Even Jean Todt, CEO of Ferrari, was surprised (happily surprised, of course) by the extraordinary Brazilian turn of events.
"Everything was perfect: the pole position, the fastest lap during the race, impeccable work by the team, and the drivers, Kimi and Felipe. In the final result Kimi was masterful".
And, for the first time, he also talks about his involvement in the spy story that marked the championship:
"I never expected something like this to happen. I am very saddened by this unnecessary affair, in which our main adversaries have shown that they did not have the vision necessary to stop it when they could have done so. This is the reason why we have We're still struggling with it in some ways outside of the sporting world, but it's something we certainly couldn't have foreseen or expected. I didn't think that events of this severity could exist, but sometimes even these unpleasant episodes help us develop new experiences. Maybe the situation was a little naive in certain aspects, but we had to think about moving forward in the sporting circumstances. To move forward we had to try to win the races and possibly place ourselves in first and second place, but we always tried to keep the situations separate".
Jean Todt retraces a strange and, at the same time, extraordinary season:
"The car was very fast: the team was very strong. We didn't expect to end the season in this way, with nine victories and nine pole positions to our credit. We are really very happy".
The French manager underlines the exceptional nature of Kimi Raikkonen's comeback.
"We must not forget that in Japan we were 17 points behind the leader in the standings, and today we managed to overtake him by one point. Kimi scored 18 points in two races. Anyone who had bet on him must be very satisfied. I myself hadn't bet on him, but the team did a fantastic job. However, I believe in the fairness of things, and this was directed towards the right team and driver , but I shouldn't be the one to say that. I always said, when we met in the briefings after the races, that as long as there was mathematically still a chance of winning we would continue to believe we could do it. And that's what we did. Don't forget that Kimi won the first race, showing that we were very competitive from the start of the World Championship. We had a lot of problems but in the end we can be really happy".
And a comparison with the winning period of Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Michael Schumacher is inevitable.
"You know, for me the most fascinating aspect lies in the individuality of the human being. And comparisons cannot be made between people. Michael cannot therefore be compared to Kimi, and I will not make comparisons (for technical direction) between Mario Almondo and Aldo Costa with Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne. There are certainly some aspects in common, they are very willing people and ready to give their best, with great team spirit. And what matters most is making sure you have people at top levels, with great goal orientation and determination. We constantly tried to improve where there was room to do so, and bring to the highest levels even what wasn't so throughout the weekend. I always say, however, that I don't we are brilliant people. We are ourselves, real people trying to create the wind to go in the right direction, and often the wind makes us go fast, even if sometimes in the wrong direction. It has been a year of transition. There is no reason to return to the issues in which this season was different from previous ones. We knew it would be a new challenge and this is also what gives us enthusiasm. We always knew that everything had to be perfect and that we had to learn from our mistakes this year to improve next year".
Jean Todt expresses his further satisfaction for having mathematically won the World Constructors' Championship also on the track, rather than through the penalty sentence expressed by the FIA against McLaren.
"To be very honest, I was very careful about the points count. I knew we would win, but I also knew that it would always be said that we had won the World Constructors' Championship only because of the FIA's decision, not because of the sporting result. I am therefore doubly happy that we achieved the goal on the field".
Finally, Jean Todt takes an overall look at his drivers and their objectives, with particular reference to Kimi Raikkonen.
"It certainly changes over the years. A Formula 1 driver races to become World Champion at least once. Now he has managed to do it and I am sure he will try to do it again. Felipe on the other hand has not yet achieved his goal and will try he too reaches it, like the other drivers. But it also depends a lot on the car we make available to them. We certainly have two drivers in the team who are capable of winning races if they have a good car, so it is the team's job to give them a reliable and high-performance car. This way they can both do it".
Looking at these considerations in perspective, the French manager concludes by saying:
"Michael Schumacher arrived at Ferrari in 1996, after being twice World Champion, and managed to win only three races on his debut. Why? Simply because the car was not competitive and reliable enough. Therefore, one should not think that Michael he did everything by himself: he certainly made a fundamental contribution to the team, but without the team he would not have been able to achieve the results he achieved".
Meanwhile, from Italy, Luca Montezemolo, speaking of Jean Todt says:
"He thanked me, then immediately gave me a summary analysis of the race, as he always does. He is an extraordinary person, like all those who worked on this undertaking. They are people of enormous caliber who have shown that they never give up. And not only that: he also demonstrated that he knows how to transmit the habit of never giving up from year to year, from person to person. Believe me, something extraordinary".
After Jean Todt, who called?
"The riders, obviously. Raikkonen: an exceptional guy, gentle and professional. He has suffered a lot of criticism and has shown that he has great endurance, he's someone like that: he talks little and pushes a lot. But also Massa. I also wanted to speak with Felipe immediately It was important that he knew how much everything he did was appreciated. Because this victory bears his signature. He drove a perfect race and at the right moment he followed the team's orders like a professional. Opening the doors to this triumph. In the end the passing of the baton between him and Kimi, at the second pit stop, was even elegant".
Compared to the other victories, what characteristics does this one have?
"This is one of the most beautiful. Also because we didn't expect it. It was decided at the last minute. Today was very hard: at the end I kept seeing Kubika and Rosberg overtaking each other taking crazy risks... If anything farewell world championship went wrong. And then perhaps it was the most important".