Did Kimi deserve the title?

November 10, 2007 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

2007 has been a strange old season. Amazingly it isn’t over yet what with the impending court case over fuel legality that could see the BMW and Williams cars tossed out of the Brazilian GP and Lewis promoted to fourth, which would see him mug the crown from Raikkonen. For political reasons that is an unlikely outcome. To have one title decided in court is unfortunate, to have two decided in such a manner is downright careless — the FIA will ensure it doesn’t happen.

F1 fans are an emotive bunch and opinion is split sharply among partisan lines: in the red corner are the folks who believe that anyone but McLaren deserves to be champion because (a) McLaren blatantly stole Ferrari’s secrets, (b) Lewis is an arrogant prima dona who should be taken down a peg or two, and (c) Ron Dennis is the bad guy and deserves to live out his remaining days somewhere between hell and pergutory; over in the silver corner are those who feel that Lewis and McLaren have been monumentally screwed over by an overzealous FIA and a tempestous Fernando Alonso.

So who is right?

The bald facts suggest that Kimi is a worthy champion. Winning the driver’s crown is about seeing the chequered flag first and Kimi stood atop the podium six times, twice more than both Lewis and Fernando. Were it not for the gremlins that afflicted his Ferrari in the mid-season then Raikkonen would have taken the title at a canter.

However, that’s not to take anything away from Hamilton, who arguably had an even better season and with a dash more luck would have walked away champion. It could easily have been Hamilton who won six races rather than Raikkonen. A different tyre strategy or dry weather my have resulted in victory. And at Interlagos Hamilton out-qualified everyone bar Massa despite hauling several laps more fuel around the track. Add in Hamilton’s rookie status, which meant he saw many circuits for the first time, and that he was paired with the double World Champion his achievements are even more impressive. Although Hamilton wobbled midway through the season, particularly at Monza and Spa, the way he outpaced Alonso over the last three Grand Prix suggest that he has more raw pace than the Spaniard.

Also we should put Alonso’s achievements in the correct context. To score the same number of points as his team mate and one behind the eventual winner is a monumental feat given the friction between him and his team over the year. Say what you like about McLaren’s equality policy it sure made for exciting racing.

There is little doubt that the top three are the greatest drivers of their era who in 2007 were all at the top of their games. Had Alonso and Raikonnen been team mates then it is likely that Hamilton would have sauntered off with the title. Were if Hamilton and Raikonnen in the same car then Alonso would have won.

What about the allegations of cheating? Does that mean the McLaren drivers should have been kicked out of the championship? The FIA need to show consistency and didn’t. If McLaren were guilty then they shouldn’t be allowed to compete in either the constructors or drivers championship. The facts are murky and obscured by the allegations that the infomation flow wasn’t one way. Why would it be? Nigel Stepney is on record as saying that Ferrari actively canvassed and recieved technical information about McLaren’s set-up. Also there was no evidence that McClaren used any of the information they got from Ferrari to advance their car. On the otherhand there was a smoking gun sticking out of Alonso’s pocket! No-one will ever agree on whether the punishment fitted the crime but what we can aquiesce on is that it dragged F1 through the mud and that is something that all involved with the sport should be ashamed of.

Baring a surprise ruling on the fuel irregularities the history books will conclude that the Flying Finn deservedly won the title on the basis of his six wins. Let’s not forget the desperate position Kimi was in in Fuji where at one point 20 cars separated him from championship leader, Lewis Hamilton. By fighting back to third he was able to keep the gap to 17 points with two races remaining. They say that it is in the face of adversity that true champions are made, so on that basis Kimi is rightfully king.

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Entry filed under: Comment.

More reflections on Renault 2007 Review: Williams

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