F1 07 review: The best moments

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Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Nurburgring, 2007What were the highlights of the 2007 season for you?

Here are my eight favourite moments of the year – both off and on the track.

Lewis Hamilton?s starts

Or, to be more precise, Hamilton?s first corners. His starts were often nothing special ?ǣ Robert Kubica beat him away from the line at Melbourne, but Hamilton simply drove around the outside of him, and Fernando Alonso, first bend.

He did the same at Monza, where Felipe Massa beat him away from the grid but Hamilton took him back at the first corner despite the pair briefly making contact.

At the circuits that afforded him the opportunity, Hamilton conjured up some phenomenal moves. He seems to have another sense that tells him exactly how late he can brake regardless of how far off-line he is or how cool his tyres are.

We saw it at Sepang, when he passed a snoozing Kimi Raikkonen and a distracted Felipe Massa. And surely the best of all was at the Nurburgring, when his tenth place grid position would have become fourth had he not been touched by a spinning BMW.

He certainly pushed the rules, though, and was perhaps lucky not to get a wrist-slapping for the kind of unseemly twitches from the racing line we saw on the run to turn one at Bahrain. And his lap one cool deserted him when he needed it at Interlagos??

Fernando Alonso vs Felipe Massa, Nurburgring

Is there any finer sight in motor racing than a proper, wheel-to-wheel duel to the flag?

Massa and Alonso did battle in the dying stages of the European Grand Prix as rain began to fall and everyone switched to wet-weather tyres.

But Massa gave his tyres too much punishment on the way out of the pit lane, causing a vibration the would badly compromise his defence of the lead.

Alonso, meanwhile, was at his brilliant best. His karter?s instincts hunted out the grippier parts of the circuit, and his unrivalled ability for heating up tyres (except, perhaps, for Lewis Hamilton) took care of the rest.

Massa?s defensive driving in extremis was questionable in its etiquette. What began as a ruthless covering of the racing line turned into wheel-banging. When Alonso finally got through the pair made contact: Massa moved across on the champion when it was far too late ?ǣ as Alonso made very clear to the Ferrari driver in their post-race row.

But it was Alonso who prevailed, and his victory was one of the season?s best.

Nico Rosberg vs Jenson Button, Monza

In a horrifically uncompetitive Honda, Jenson Button was not going to let a rare chance to score some points pass him by.

And so when he qualified tenth for the Italian Grand Prix and leapt ahead of Nico Rosberg at the start, Button clung on grimly.

For lap after lap Button rebuffed Rosberg?s attacks, defending with millimetre-perfect precision and never stepping beyond the boundaries of fair play.

It was Rosberg who finally gained the upper hand, but Button?s relentlessness saw him grab a valuable point ?ǣ perhaps the hardest-earned of the season.

Sebastian Vettel, Shanghai

After the nightmare of Fuji ?ǣ where he?d run third only to crash into team mate Mark Webber ?ǣ Sebastian Vettel needed to find redemption in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The weekend didn?t start well, however, for although his Fuji grid penalty was quashed he picked up another one for impeding someone during qualifying. He started 17th, but the lowly grid slot emboldened the team to take a strategic gamble and they called it every bit as perfectly as McLaren screwed it up.

Despite the constantly changing conditions Vettel visited the pits only once, to switch from wet weather tyre to the dry weather compounds he needed for the second part of the race.

That alone gave him an enormous time advantage over his rivals ?ǣ most of which stopped at least twice ?ǣ and Vettel made up the rest with some skilful driving.

His fourth place was Toro Rosso?s best ever, and equalled the best result the team had earned when it was Minardi. And it went some way towards recompensing for his Fuji gaffe.

Lewis Hamilton, Interlagos

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Interlagos, 2007, 8 | DaimlerThe final race of the season brought heartbreak for Lewis Hamilton?s fans ?ǣ but his gutsy race through the field was one of the performances of the year.

After succumbing to a pair of deft moves from Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, Hamilton fell to eighth from second on the first lap. But straight away he began attacking the cars ahead of him, passing Jarno Trulli as they began the second lap and urging Nick Heidfeld to run wide at turn one.

But on lap eight his luck took a turn for the worse. A gearbox glitch robbed him of drive for thirty agonising seconds, dropping him from six to 18th, over half a minute behind the fifth place he needed to become champion.

Now Hamilton threw caution to the wind. Sure, some of the cars he now had to pass were much slower than those he had raced earlier, but the pressure of time meant he had to dispense with each driver on the first attempt and not get held up behind them.

The McLaren driver carved his way through the pack, diving past Rubens Barrichello?s Honda from a seemingly impossible distance, showing off the stunning race craft that gave his performance at Istanbul in GP2 last year instant legendary status.

At the end he fell short of his goal by just two places. But while some have questioned whether McLaren?s strategic switch spoiled his race, no-one has claimed he couldn?t have done any more on the track.

Anthony Davidson?s qualifying lap, Istanbul

It?s always been part of the nature of Formula 1 that the best lap of a given weekend might not be for pole position or the best lap of the race.

Sure enough Anthony Davidson?s stunning lap at Istanbul only gave the Super Aguri pilot 11th on the grid. But it was still an absolute peach.

Unfortunately on race day he was held up by a first-corner fracas and wasn?t able to translate his brilliant qualifying lap with a points finish. But it was the second best thing anyone did in a Super Aguri this year after??

Takuma Sato vs Fernando Alonso, Montreal

Yes, it was aided by an oddity of the tyre rules and Alonso?s earlier delay due to a penalty for an ill-timed pit stop.

But nevertheless this was still a Super Aguri overtaking a McLaren. Sato capitalised on his traction advantage and passed Alonso around the outside of the final chicane, no less.

Traction control banned

This year virtually everything that came from the FIA was negative ?ǣ whether it was a stewards; ruling or plans for future of the sport.

But this long-awaited change has been widely welcomed by fans of motor racing. For seven years F1 the sport has been burdened with the stigma that one of the most important functions of the driver has been delegated to a machine.

The ability to time and moderate the moment of acceleration is fundamental to a drivers? art. Too much power provokes a spin, too little and you?re just plain slow. The banning of traction control will also make it harder for drivers to manage tyre wear, which can only be good for the racing spectacle.

Good riddance to traction control and three cheers to the FIA and car manufacturers for finally banning it. I hope we never see its like again.

Photos: Daimler

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “F1 07 review: The best moments”

  1. Kubica vs Massa in Japan !

  2. It was loads of fun to watch but I didn’t put it on the list because I didn’t think it was very fair that Massa was allowed to overtake him by driving off the circuit.

    Rosberg and Button’s battle, on the other hand was impressive because it was in dry conditions on a track that’s not easy to overtake on, and it was scrupulously fair at every point.

  3. I would agree that sato overtaking alonso was one of my favourite bits of last season – sato has shown on the odd occasion that he can be as good as the rest – but in the super aguri – great – and for once – he kept on the circuit – positive miracle for the guy!!

  4. Massa moving through the field at Silverstone was much more impressive than Hamilton’s race at Interlagos… firstly because Massa didn’t make any mistake (his car stalled, and that’s all), while Hamilton tried the impossible against Alonso and a few laps later forgot he was an F1 driver and pressed the neutral button…

    Meanwhile, Massa came from 22th to 5th at the flag, and especially his first five or ten laps were fenomenal…

    And only to convince you that it’s not my brazilian nationality talking louder, I should be honest and say the most impressive recovery race of all was Kimi Raikonnen’s at Fuji, with that wonderful overtaking move against Coulthard on the outside, in a rain-soaked track, and his 3rd place finish that eventually kept him his Championship dream alive…

    So, It’s pretty unfair to put Lewis is your list and exclude Kimi’s and Felipe’s races..

    P.S.: I still think Lewis is a true genius-in-the-making, perhaps he’ll be the greatest driver of all if he keeps growing as fast as he was this year, but the last two races showed he’s yet very much ‘in-the-making’

  5. Of course this list is entirely subjective and if you were to break down Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen’s individual progressions through the fields in those three races then the dispassionate conclusion is that all three drove really well and did a lot of overtaking.

    But there are reasons why I included Hamilton’s drive and not theirs. For example both Massa and Raikkonen both ended those races stuck behind drivers they probably should have gotten past (Kubica and Kovalainen respectively).

    Besides which, Hamilton’s came under the pressure of a championship deciding race in which he’d already made one mistake at the start and then suffered a mechanical failure (which it seems it was, rather than a driver failure) that he didn’t know might not reoccur.

    I’m not being ‘unfair’ by not including Massa and Raikkonen’s recovery drives, I just thought Hamilton’s more impressive and more dramatic for these reasons.

    But both Massa and Raikkonen’s drives were, as you say, very impressive.

  6. daniel… you haven’t read everything this year..Hamilton didn’t press neutral.. it was a genuine gearbox glitch.
    Who made up the story said he didn’t check his source and corrected it…and so dit lewis and McLaren…those gearboxes are too ‘smart’ to just put them in neutral or whatever :)

    just so you know :)

  7. Marcus Winkelhock leading the European Grand Prix by 33 seconds scores pretty high on my season highlights!

  8. Keith: Good answer of yours, especially when you pointed out the drivers Massa and Raikkonen should have passed (Kubica and Kovalainen), but they weren’t able to… that would convince me, but Kimi’s drive, put into perspective, was a championship-deciding one…

    I know it’s impossible to be objective when making lists, rakings or highlights, but still it’s possible to reach consensus… Well, I think we reached it with your answer!

    SoLiD: Yes, I might have been unfair with Lewis on the ‘neutral’ button thing, but in fact I read before that the information was corrected… still I think it’s very strange and very very uncommon to see something like that happen and than fix itself… that I remember, it was the first time… so, if we assume it was a car failure, than Hamilton was very very unlucky, and very very talented to nurse the car home without any other problem…

  9. Keith: Now being fair with you, I totally agree with your point on Hamilton’s first corners moves… in fact, few people in brazilian press were able to comment properly his move at the Nurburgring, which I saw from the beginning was a masterful drive…

    It was a shame he was touched by Kubica, I think, and had a puncture (had he in fact? I’m not sure now, please correct me if I’m wrong)…

  10. I miss traction control already :(

  11. @Rohan: Really? Why? Getting rid of traction control was one of the best moves the FIA has made! I only hope that they are able to effectively enforce the ban, as teams have been able to circumvent it in the past.

    But my favorite moment would have to be Alonso overtaking Massa at the Nurburgring. It doesn’t get much better than a pass around the outside, in difficult conditions, for the win, in the last laps of the race!

    And I completely agree with NOT including the Massa/Kubica battle. Yes, it was dramatic. But I found it annoying that some people were equating it to the legendary Villeneuve/Arnoux battle, a bogus comparison in my view! Massa/Kubica were off in the paved run-off at virtually every turn, and even gaining unfair advantage by simply powering through it! Not so Villeneuve/Arnoux, who were able to keep it on the bloody track, while fighting harder!

    Damn, that paved run-off is just about the worst thing on today’s circuits.

  12. Rohan, seriously? You’re not being sarcastic?

    Eric M: Yep, I certainly wouldn’t compare Villeneuve/Arnoux to Massa/Kubica – it’s not even close. But I’d still put it in the best moments of the year. The fact that they pushed each other so hard with more to lose than to gain (and the way they entertained us!) gives it much value to be on the list.

  13. I’m way behind the technical times but, is everyone confident that this time the FIA and the stewards et al are going to be able to enforce the ban?

  14. yes because they all have standard ECU’s, n they r the onlky way to put it on the cars as it’s a electronic device. good riddance too

  15. I was being serious – these days I follow F1 for the technology, politics, buisness side of things and, quite honestly, any exciting racing is just a bonus in my view.

    I accept that I am in the minority of F1 enthusiasts in this respect, but even then, the elimination of traction control won’t make much (if any) difference to the racing anyway. It would require much more wholesale changes for that to happen.

  16. I agree with many of your best momnets, but I think you left two things down: Raikkonen surge at the end of season (he climbs a 17 pts deficit, in two races!). I tyhink the turning point was the kimmi overtake over lewis in china, at that moment lewis meltdown begins!

  17. Wouldn’t it be great to see the lack of traction control married to the one-tyre regulations of 2004. What a challenge that’d be for the drivers come the closing laps.

  18. @Robert:

    Yes! That, combined with a ban on refueling! That would be a tremendous challenge, and I think most drivers, and teams, would need the better part of a season to truly adapt to something like that.

  19. 1.) Eric M, Robert… Combine all of this with a points system that rewards drivers who go for the win and don’t play it safe for points (Perhaps 10,6,4,3,2,1) and I am a convert.

    2.) I had my heart in my mouth when Alonso drove around Heidfeld at Magny Cours!

    3. However, the highlight of the year for me was when Lewis got stuck in the gravel at Japan.

    Not because I am a Hamilton Hater. But because it kept the title race alive and set up the tremendous build up to the Brazilian GP. The last three races saved this season since (as you have pointed out elsewhere Keith) a lot of the races were VERY processional.

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