My uncle Jefren Pages cheered for Kimi Raikkonen. Same with my first cousin Giandi. His brother Ezra—calling long-distance from Dubai, where he flies for Emirates—also rooted for Ferrari.Ezra’s eldest brother Anton, a former Michael Schumacher fan and the columnist of the popular “Flat Out” column, didn’t want Team Red to win this year: Anton wished Fernando Alonso victory.
Me? I voted for Lewis Hamilton. Only 22 years old and in his first Formula One season, I wished the Briton would land in the Guinness World Records by winning the Brazilian GP—and becoming history’s first-ever rookie to win the coveted title, “World Drivers’ Champion.”
At my uncle Jefren’s house in Paradise Village, we surrounded a large-screen TV set. The clock? It read “12:00.” Not 12 noon—but 12 midnight!
Felipe Massa sat on the No.1 spot at the starting grid. Right beside him was Lewis Hamilton. Spots three and four: Raikkonen and Alonso. With these names upfront, this we knew: This will be historic.
And historic it was. Right at the opening sprint, Massa swerved left to block Hamilton, squeezing the rookie. Raikkonen took second place, followed by Alonso. And Hamilton? While he started at No. 2, within a few clock ticks, he skidded, slipped, braked, drove backwards…
It was an unbelievable—and yes, painful—sight. At day’s start, Hamilton led the season race with 107 points. Alonso was second (103), then Raikkonen (100). All Hamilton needed to do was place higher than the two—or at least a few places behind them—to win.
But the two words synonymous to his name crept inside his McLaren engine: BAD LUCK. It started two weeks ago when, at the Chinese Grand Prix, he only needed a few points to clinch the title. He led, then led… until his car ran wide into a gravel trap in the pit lane—and got stuck. From certain win to a shocking Did Not Finish scorecard—the first retirement of his F1 career.
Last Sunday, more bad luck. On the eighth lap, he had a gearbox problem that almost grinded his machine to a halt. He lost 40 seconds, the race—and the Guinness Record.
Alonso? The two-time defending champion was never at yesterday’s race. In third place behind the two Ferraris, he was too far back to threaten for the win.
Alonso: Time to hand over the cup
Massa? The Brazilian riding in his home country, well, he did what he had to do. After one pit stop, he purposely slowed down to allow his teammate Raikkonen to take the lead. But his biggest contribution? At the starting grid when he “blocked” Hamilton, slowed his heart beat, and broke his rookie heart.
Which brings us to the Finn. The “Iceman.” The Ferrari successor to Schumi. The driver who’s estimated to be F1’s highest paid with an annual base salary of $51 million. The 28-year-old who just celebrated his birthday last Wednesday. And, to top all that, the 2007 World Driver’s Champion: Kimi Raikkonen.
What did he do? No mistakes. Perfect strategy with teammate Massa. And a good dosage of bad luck that he sprinkled on Hamilton’s tires.
Back to the race: What a finish! Kimi scored 110 points while Lewis and Fernando both had 109. Can you imagine that? It’s like the San Antonio Spurs beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-118 in double OT of Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It’s like Roger Federer escaping Rafael Nadal in a fifth set tiebreaker at the U.S. Open final. It’s like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson in a three-way playoff to win the 2008 Masters.
To tell you the truth, that was my first F1 watch this whole season. And what a moment. You should have seen our Pages clan: my uncle Jefren grinned from ear-to-ear when Hamilton slowed, Anton fidgeted at the MacBook laptop trying to get real-time updates, Giandi punched the air when Raikkonen pumped his fist to cross the finish line first. Me? Sad for the rookie. But pumped up and heart racing at, would you believe, Monday, 1:40 a.m.