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Monza flashback 2007 - McLaren rout Ferrari on home soil 12 Sep 2008

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 celebrates.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2007 crashes into the tyre wall at the Ascari chicane
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 leads Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2007.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA107.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007

This time last year Ferrari arrived in Italy flush from a superb one-two at the Turkish Grand Prix and eager to gain more ground in the race for the title. Istanbul victor Felipe Massa was especially confident he could make more inroads into Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead, in front of Ferrari’s adoring Tifosi.

In the recent Monza test, however, it had been McLaren that set the pace on the Italian team’s home soil, with BMW Sauber very much in the running too, the F1.07’s low-downforce package looking particularly strong. Further down the grid, Spyker’s B-spec F8-VII was primed for its race debut.

True to testing form, on Friday McLaren successfully pulled the rug from under Ferrari’s feet, Alonso recovering from an early steering problem to set the fastest time of the day in the afternoon. That’s not to say Ferrari weren’t quick, though, with Kimi Raikkonen leading the morning session ahead of Massa.

Williams also ended the first day on an optimistic note, with Nico Rosberg fifth in both sessions, while Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella was an encouraging third in the afternoon. BMW Sauber, however, were not as quick as many had expected, with Robert Kubica complaining about his brake balance and Nick Heidfeld bemoaning his inconsistent long runs.

On Saturday McLaren again headed the timesheet during final practice, with Alonso leading Hamilton, but it was a high-speed accident for Ferrari that dominated the headlines. Raikkonen lost control of his F2007 under braking for the Ascari chicane and crashed heavily into the tyre wall. Although he emerged unscathed, the car seemed ruined.

Two hours later, though, the unflappable Finn was back in the cockpit of the rebuilt Ferrari for qualifying. But in spite of his heroics, he only managed fifth on the grid and it was pretty much a McLaren day, with Alonso clinching pole ahead of second-placed Hamilton. Massa kept Ferrari in the mix in third, ahead of Heidfeld’s BMW, but it was the silver and red MP4-22 that looked supreme. Further back, Heikki Kovalainen sneaked his Renault ahead of Rosberg to take seventh, Jarno Trulli secured ninth for Toyota and Jenson Button finished a strong 10th for Honda.

If McLaren had looked impressive on Saturday then they were insurmountable on Sunday, with pole-sitter Alonso dominating the race from start to finish. Team mate Hamilton finished second, but it wasn’t such an easy ride for the British driver. At the start Massa nuzzled his way in front of him, only to be ousted back behind the charging McLaren at the first chicane.

Soon after, the safety car emerged following a front wing failure for David Coulthard’s Red Bull which sent the Scot plunging into the wall at Lesmo. The bunched-up field were freed on lap six as the race resumed and the McLarens quickly streaked away. Just three laps later Massa dropped out of contention after making an unscheduled pit stop following a puncture. He retired not long after with suspension problems.

Despite the pace of the McLarens, towards the end of the race, a one-stopping Raikkonen did get ahead of Hamilton when the McLaren driver pitted for a second time. Once back out, however, Hamilton made short work of the Finn’s advantage and re-passed him to clinch second.

Behind the podium trio, Heidfeld and Kubica took fourth and fifth for BMW Sauber, ahead of the sixth-placed Williams of Rosberg. Completing the points finishers were Kovalainen and Button. And although they were ultimately unrewarded, Red Bull’s Mark Webber (ninth), Rubens Barrichello (10th) and Jarno Trulli (11th) enjoyed great races too.

With the Italian points doled out, the drivers’ championship was closer than ever, with Alonso now trailing Hamilton by just three points. It was no doubt a race that Ferrari would prefer to forget, with both drivers slipping in the title fight and McLaren extending their lead in the constructors’ standings to 23 points.

Just days later, however, the British team would be stripped of their points for the season and fined US$100 million after the World Motor Sport Council decided they had breached regulations for possessing confidential technical data belonging to Ferrari. It was a decision that all but assured the Italian team of the constructors’ title.