F1 review of 2007
A look back at the events surrounding the 2007 Formula One season, which almost saw Lewis Hamilton become world champion.
By Michael Wise
Last Updated: 24/12/07 8:49am
Hands up everyone who, at the start of the year, had Lewis Hamilton pegged as a title contender? If the man himself is to be believed, not even Lewis Hamilton thought he could pull off the feat of becoming the first rookie to win the Formula One World Championship.
In the event he couldn't quite manage it: mistakes that perhaps would have been glossed over as toddling steps early in the year were made instead at the season's climax - and made all the more glaring because of it. Having himself made an indifferent start, pre-season favourite Kimi Raikkonen came good in the second half of the year to snatch the title away from Hamilton's grasp at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Finn in the process overturning the 17-point deficit which the young Englishman had held with just two races remaining.
It's perhaps unfair that the triumph of Raikkonen - an unlikely one regardless of the six victories he scored - has been and will continue to be overshadowed by other events during the season - although you get the impression that the 28-year-old from Espoo is probably not bothered either way. But that's the way events have transpired, with Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa also reduced to the status of bit-part player in spite of his own title bid, propelled as it was by four victories.
On track at least, 2008 was all about the emergence of Hamilton. More specifically, it was about how that emergence affected his relationship with McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, and the defending world champion's own relationship with senior team personnel. Having arrived at Woking bearing back-to-back titles and, with Michael Schumacher now retired, the mantle of 'F1's best all-round driver' bestowed upon him, the Spaniard was clearly expecting top-dog status and subservience from the kid.
However, Hamilton's duck-to-water performance in the Australian Grand Prix was all it took to dispel such notions and, with Alonso clearly rattled by his team-mate's performances by mid-season, their spat during qualifying for August's Hungarian Grand Prix showed the world that, however laudable McLaren's principle of equality might be, it can only really work when, in terms of talent and desire at least, some drivers are more equal than others.
Although we weren't aware of it at the time, events that weekend at the Hungaroring also effectively sealed McLaren's fate with regard to the so-called 'spying' allegations which had surfaced weeks earlier during a summer which saw themselves and Ferrari engage in a ding-dong battle: silver cars ahead at one track, red cars back in front at the next.
That McLaren were subsequently found guilty of receiving confidential information belonging to their championship rivals certainly added to the mix of a season already high on intrigue; that the case has only recently been wrapped up - and that it spawned another involving Renault - merely confirms how tiresome intrigue can rapidly become...
Click below for an in depth review of the season...