The 2007 season saw some change as reigning world champion Fernando Alonso finally made his switch from Renault to McLaren. Kimi Raikkonen who had raced for McLaren the previous year was now at Ferrari having replaced Michael Schumacher who had retired.
The season developed into fights off the track as McLaren were found guilty in Spygate which also involved Ferrari. There was also a fight between Alonso and McLaren as the relationship between the two drastically broke down during the season. But there were also fights on the track as the two McLaren drivers of Alonso and Lewis Hamilton battled for the title, along with a late season charge from Raikkonen.
Going into the Event
The previous round in the championship had been the Belgian Grand Prix which had been won by Kimi Raikkonen, ahead of his teammate, Felipe Massa. They were followed by the two McLarens, with Alonso claiming the final podium place ahead of Hamilton.
The result meant that going into the Japanese Grand Prix, Alonso was now only two points behind championship leader, Hamilton, whilst Raikkonen was thirteen behind the Briton.
The McLaren’s started on the front row with Hamilton ahead of Alonso. However the race started behind the safety car due to the heavy rain. Due to the weather conditions there were numerous accidents once the safety car pulled in, including Massa being hit by Alexander Wurz’s Williams. It meant that then rookie, Sebastian Vettel, driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, found himself in third place.
For a time, during a pit stop phase, Sebastian Vettel led the race.
The weather conditions caused trouble for both McLaren’s as Alonso went wide, losing time, and Hamilton spun having collided with Robert Kubica, but was able to rejoin the race. Alonso had further trouble as he collided with a Toro Rosso, putting his car into a spin. Alonso spun once again later in the race, making contact with the wall and sustaining too much damage to continue, leading to the deployment of the safety car once again.
Under the safety car, Vettel hit the Red Bull of Mark Webber, taking both cars out of the race. The race eventually got back underway, allowing Raikkonen to overtake David Coulthard for fourth. Felipe Massa then pitted allowing Raikkonen to move up to third who then began to challenge Kovalainen on the last lap for second.
Kovalainen however managed to hold second, meaning that Raikkonen had to settle for third as Hamilton took victory.
After the event
The round after Japan was the Chinese Grand Prix where Hamilton was now twelve points ahead of team mate Alonso and seventeen points ahead of third placed Kimi Raikkonen. But the Briton retired from the race which was won by Raikkonen, with Alonso finishing second and Massa claiming the final podium place. It meant that Alonso was only four points behind Hamilton, whilst Raikkonen was now only seven points behind going into the final race in Brazil.