Season Review: Hamilton falls at final hurdle but finishes ahead of Alonso

He did not crumble, he was not overhyped, he responded to failure with dignity – and world titles beckon. By David Tremayne

And so, ultimately, Lewis Hamilton stumbled at the last hurdle. After leading the world championship fight outright since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, he lost by a point in a dramatictitle fight in which a combination of factors – including a crucial transmission gremlin – left him down in seventh instead of the fourth place that would have been sufficient to get the job done.

Yet he lost with dignity, and not, as have some vaunted British heroes, because he crumbled or because, after all, he had been overhyped. Championships lie in his future, of that there is no question.

Typically, because this is 2007, one of the most acrimonious and polemics-riddled years in the sport's turbulent history, nothing was cut and dried after Kimi Raikkonen drove a wonderful race to win the Brazilian Grand Prix from his Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa, and thus become only the third Finn in history to take the championship crown. A post-race investigation revealed that, of all esoteric things, the fuel that had been used in the two Williams-Toyotas and BMW-Saubers had been too cool and thus breached regulations.

The stewards looked at the situation and decided that nothing needed to be done; McLaren then launched an appeal against that decision. It was not so much that they thought that in doing so the disqualifications of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubicaand Nick Heidfeld would boost Hamilton from seventh to fourth, and thus the 112 points that he needed to beat Raikkonen; it was more that they genuinely want to know why cars can be found to be illegal yet receive no punishment. The basis of their appeal is to definesuch things for the future.

These semantics escaped most, not the least the defeatedworld champion, Fernando Alonso, who could not resist taking yet another swipe at the team who helped him to four wins this year, or the team-mate who pushed him into third place overall by equalling his points score but taking the runner-up slot on the basis of five second places to his four.

As has become his wont, Alonso bleated to the Spanish radio station Cadena Ser: "If he [Hamilton] wins the championship due to this, it wouldn't be fair and I would be embarrassed for this sport. I'm not sure what he would think – I guess if they give you the title, you don't think it's a present but rather that you deserve it. He wouldbe delighted."

Hamilton reacted calmly to that little bit of churlishness: "To have the world title taken away is a bit cruel and probably not good for the sport," Hamilton told BBC Radio. "It would feel weird after Kimi did such a fantastic job in the last two races and won on Sunday.

"I want to win it on the track. You want to do it in style, you want to win the race or [be] battling it out for the lead. Being promoted after other people have been thrown out is not the way I want to do it."

Hamilton clearly has a long career ahead of him after an outstanding rookie season. "I'm only 22 and there's going to be plenty more opportunities for me to win the world championship," he said. "I have no doubt that we can do it in future. It has been a phenomenal year and it has just been a real pleasure to be part of the team."

Over in Italy, Ferrari's chairman, Luca di Montezemolo, continued to fuel the rumours that Alonso will end up at Ferrari by praising the Spaniard's sportsmanship – something that raised eyebrows at McLaren – while taking a swipe at Hamilton. Of the latter he observed: "I must say that in the course of the season he has not always behaved exemplarily."

McLaren's boss, Ron Dennis, however, arguably the one man who knows what really happened with his two drivers this year, defended Hamilton staunchly.

"I have total admiration for his ability to have such a positive attitude and look at the season as a whole, as has Anthony," remarked Dennis, referring to Hamilton's father as well. "But you don't need me to explain the success and achievements of Lewis. I think they speak for themselves.

"One of our statisticians worked out the most likely expected period of time for podiums, pole positions and race wins and all the other things. After three races we just tore it up because it was obviously not going to be the case, he exceededall the expectations."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue
E L James's book Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

It's hard to understand why so many are buying it – but then best-selling was ever an inexact science, says DJ Taylor
Behind the scenes of the world's most experimental science labs

World's most experimental science labs

The photographer Daniel Stier has spent four years gaining access to some of the world's most curious scientific experiments
It's the stroke of champions - so why is the single-handed backhand on the way out?

Single-handed backhand: on the way out?

If today's young guns wish to elevate themselves to the heights of Sampras, Graf and Federer, it's time to fire up the most thrilling shot in tennis
HMS Saracen: Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled

HMS Saracen

Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'

7/7 bombings 10 years on

Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'