Analysis: Raikkonen's Win Among the Best

Kimi Raikkonen's last-lap overtaking move to win Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix for McLaren will stand the test of time as one of Formula One's great moments

Analysis: Raikkonen's Win Among the Best

The Finn, starting from 17th place, fought his way through the field until he emerged from the final pitstop with eight laps remaining and 5.4 seconds to make up on race leader Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault.

Catching the Italian at a second a lap, Raikkonen went on the team radio to enquire how many laps he had left. Just one, he was told.

The Finn, his nickname 'Iceman' painted on the side of his helmet, then swept past Fisichella on the outside on his final run through turn one to secure his seventh win of the year.

"You don't have anything left. It is your last chance. He's radioed in. How many laps to go? One lap. And he just did it, just phenomenal," said team boss Ron Dennis.

He said the race was probably the best of Raikkonen's career and others agreed.

"I think it was awesome," said BAR's Nick Fry. "I just thought it was one of the great manoeuvres of this season, if not in motor racing. To go round the outside of somebody there really shows a huge bravery and how good the car is."

The victory ensured that the Finn will end the season with at least as many wins as newly-crowned champion Fernando Alonso, who has six and one more chance to win this year.

Raikkonen could become the first driver to win eight races in a season without taking the title. Alain Prost took seven wins in 1984 and 1988 yet still finished runner-up in both years.

Spa Memories

"It has to rate amongst the very, very best (of McLaren wins)," said Mercedes motorsport director Norbert Haug.

"Passing Fisichella...was one of the greatest moves we have seen for a long time - probably since Mika (Hakkinen)'s in Spa in 2000."

Hakkinen, the man Raikkonen replaced at McLaren in 2002, pulled off one of the all-time great manoeuvres when he went three-abreast with Michael Schumacher and Brazilian backmarker Ricardo Zonta to overtake both and win the race.

"I would never, ever detract from anything any driver did but the thing that will always live in my memory is the overtaking of Mika up the hill in Spa," said Dennis.

"That for me holds the most impressive and vivid memory.

"But I think there is a completely different process in overtaking during the course of a race, which is a strategic manoeuvre, to overtaking in the only remaining place in which you can overtake on the last lap of the race."

Dennis said there was plenty of scope for getting it wrong under pressure and praised Fisichella for his sporting behaviour and clean driving.

"I saw Fisichella prior to going on to the podium and he was bitterly disappointed," he said. "But still he was composed and professional and that impressed me."

Raikkonen, so often deadpan in victory this season, also seemed moved by what he had achieved.

"I am very happy of course for the win," he said. "Maybe it makes me happier than normal because I really needed to fight for it.

"So maybe the feeling is stronger now because when you achieve something, when you really fight for it, it's nicer than driving a whole race on your own in front."

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