Sun, 21 October 2007, 07:36

Kimi Raikkonen emerged F1’s surprise new world champion on Sunday as title favourite Lewis Hamilton faltered in Brazil.

The Finn, assisted by local hero and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, clinched the drivers’ prize by one point, with a lacklustre Alonso third and Hamilton, in the sister McLaren, just seventh after a disastrous afternoon at Interlagos.

22-year-old Hamilton, four points ahead of Alonso and seven ahead of Raikkonen going into the 71-lap race in scorching temperatures, had a bad start and then went off the circuit trying to overtake Alonso.

He lost a further half a minute a few laps later when a gearbox problem temporarily struck.

“Lewis has enjoyed phenomenal reliability from his car this year. It was just a default in the gearbox which selected neutral for a period of time but then sorted itself out,” team boss Ron Dennis told British television ITV afterwards.

“It was so close, we needed just one car to stop. It’s hard to find the right words,” he added.

At the time of writing, Hamilton had not commented on his defeat, but his father Anthony said no-one in their camp was feeling “pain” even though they were looking forward to trying again in 2008.

“Hopefully all the rubbish that’s gone on in formula one this year will not be there next year,” he added.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, who held off celebrating his 28th birthday a few days ago, won the title in the presence of his countryman Mika Hakkinen, who ironically watched the race from the garage of their old team, McLaren.

The British press, not 24 hours after the country lost the Rugby World Cup to South Africa, could not hide its disappointment with Sunday’s result.

“Hamilton dream crushed”, the Evening Standard observed.

“Dream over as Raikkonen lands title”, said the Guardian.

The Daily Mail added: “Hamilton blows drivers’ championship”.

The Times spared a thought for McLaren, who would at least have clinched the constructors’ championship had it not been excluded amid the espionage affair.

“McLaren have ended a torrid season with nothing,” the newspaper surmised.

Brasil GP, race
1 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28:15.270
2 F. Massa Ferrari + 1.493
3 F. Alonso McLaren + 57.019
4 N. Rosberg Williams + 1:02.848
5 R. Kubica BMW + 1:10.957
6 N. Heidfeld BMW + 1:11.317
7 L. Hamilton McLaren + 1 lap
8 J. Trulli Toyota + 1 lap
9 D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1 lap
10 K. Nakajima Williams + 1 lap
11 R. Schumacher Toyota + 1 lap
12 T. Sato Super Aguri + 2 laps
13 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 2 laps
14 A. Davidson Super Aguri + 3 ronden

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