Raikkonen: Brazil lap 1 clinched the title
|By Biranit Goren||Wednesday, October 24th 2007, 03:52 GMT|
Kimi Raikkonen believes the first lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix was the most decisive moment in the 2007 world championship - and the reason why he was able to win the title against all hopes.
The Ferrari driver clinched the championship by a single point on Sunday after points leader Lewis Hamilton finished only seventh. And the the normally cool and collected Finn made no attempt to hide his emotions this time.
"I am so happy it almost hurts! This is like a dream come true," he told Ferrari's official website after returning to Europe on Tuesday. "This is something I wanted to reach since I've been a child.
"I've always said that the aim of my career is to become world champion. I came very close a couple of times and in the end everything turned out fine.
"The last race was really emotional; it was a great race and I think that I've never experienced such emotions in the cockpit.
"Everything worked perfectly fine. It was like a birthday present from heaven!" Raikkonen, who celebrated his 28th birthday last week, added.
Looking back at his unprecedented title win from third in the standings, Raikkonen said the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks ago was the turning point for his campaign.
"We left Japan and were 17 points behind, without the possibility to fight back," he said. "I think I can say that not more than ten people outside of the team would have bet on us. But we didn't give up. In a certain sense we believe in miracles.
"China was our joker: we won and the driver on the top of the standings didn't take any points. That gave us some hope, but there weren't many chances for us left."
Reflecting on the season finale at Interlagos, where Raikkonen was third on the grid but up to second by the first corner and behind teammate Felipe Massa, the Finn said he could have potentially overtaken the Brazilian at the start but chose not to.
"Maybe I had the best start of the season and maybe I could have passed also Felipe at the first corner, but I had a plan and it didn't involve a fight with my teammate," Raikkonen said.
"I could see in my mirrors that Hamilton was next to [Fernando] Alonso in Turn 3 and that he had a problem. I realized that we had the chance we had hoped for: this first lap seemed to be decisive for the whole championship.
"We could have had more pace and I want to thank Felipe again for his support: he did what he could do, just like a perfect teammate.
"As a team we couldn't do more than a double-win, but when I had crossed the line the most important thing to know was what Hamilton had done.
"I asked for information over the radio but there was just silence for a couple of seconds: finally Chris told me that he came in seventh and my heart nearly went into flames due to happiness! This is it: now we're world champions!"
Raikkonen also paid tribute to his Ferrari team, lavishing the Italians with compliments.
"It is fantastic being a part of the greatest team of all times," he said. "This year I really enjoyed Formula One more than ever before. I dreamt about winning the title with Ferrari and I bet that this is every driver's dream.
"This team never stops: they work at the max and never give up. We had some difficult moments, but we always managed to come back. And this shows the quality of the people working there. Thanks again!
"Now I go to the Finali Mondiali at Mugello (this weekend), to celebrate with all of Ferrari: it's my first time there and it's the perfect moment to get there.
"And then it's time for a holiday, the first as world champion."