The 2023 Formula One World Championship is just a number of weeks away, and excitement has already reached a fever pitch. The new campaign gets underway on March 5th in Bahrain, the circuit which saw Ferrari pick up their first one-two finish since the Singapore Grand Prix in 2019. And they are amongst the favourites for victory again this term.
Fans of the sport will also be hoping to see a bounce back from Mercedes next season. At the beginning of the season, the Silver Arrows were one second per lap off the pace of the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris, and although they narrowed that gap somewhat as the season progressed, they were still a distant third-best.
Also, the 2022 campaign was the first season in Lewis Hamilton’s illustrious career where he didn’t pick up at least one win, and his fans will be hoping to see him return to the title fight next season.
One man was head and shoulders above the rest last year, and that was Max Verstappen. The Flying Dutchman enjoyed a record-breaking campaign and romped to a second consecutive World Championship. Online sportsbook Bodog, which provides F1 betting and outrights, as well as famous casino games like Bodog’s Blackjack, have made ‘Super Max’ the odds-on favourite to make it three titles on the spin this term.
Last season, Ferrari was expected to take the fight to Verstappen and his Red Bull team; however, a number of poor decisions from the pit wall cost lead driver Charles Leclerc a number of victories. As such, the 2023 season marks 15 years since one of their drivers last won the World Championship. Let’s turn the clock back to that championship victory in 2017.
Kimi Räikkönen’s Finest Hour
The 2007 Formula One season was one for the ages. It was a year of thrilling races, unexpected winners, and rivals that pushed each other to their limits. The campaign will always be remembered for Finland’s Kimi Räikkönen, who stormed to his first championship win after coming out on top in an incredibly tight race against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
The Iceman hadn’t led the Championship at any point throughout the year, despite picking up five races before his championship-clinching victory in the final race in Brazil. Räikkönen put together several impressive performances throughout the year that allowed him to stay in contention until the end, where three victories in the final four races allowed him to emerge victorious by just one point ahead of the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton’s Impressive Rookie Season
Lewis Hamilton’s participation was even more impressive given the fact that 2007 was the year that the British superstar burst onto the scene with his first professional racing team McLaren-Mercedes. His outstanding performance throughout his rookie year saw him finish second in overall standings and made him a household name across the world overnight.
The Englishman picked up third place on his debut in Australia before securing four consecutive second-place finishes. Back-to-back victories in Canada and the United States of America would see him climb to the top of the championship standings, ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso, which would spark a rivalry unlike anything we had seen before.
The rivalry would reach its boiling point at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Alonso intentionally hindering Hamilton’s qualifying lap, resulting in the Brit missing out on pole position. That was the tip of the iceberg, and the aftermath in Budapest would result in the Spanish double world champion spilling McLaren’s secrets, resulting in the Spygate scandal.
The Epic Final Two Races in China & Brazil
The last two races of the season were especially dramatic. It seemed that Hamilton had the title wrapped up in Shanghai. He was leading the race from Räikkönen in changing conditions; however, as the track began to dry out, he lost his lead to the Finn.
As he entered the pitlane to box for fresh tyres, he would beach his McLaren in the gravel trap and retire from the race, his first season retirement. Räikkönen would go on to seal the victory, with Alonso finishing second and setting up one final battle between the trio in Brazil.
Hamilton needed to finish third to guarantee the championship regardless of how his two rivals finished, and he looked on course for that when he qualified in second behind Räikkönen. However, on the opening lap of the race, Hamilton would suffer from a gearbox problem that left him plumb last. He would recover to seventh, but that wasn’t enough to secure the championship.
Räikkönen was now in the box seat for the championship. He was leading the race, and his teammate Felipe Massa was behind him, with Alonso in third. The Spanish title contender needed to overtake Massa to secure the title; however, he couldn’t, leaving the Iceman to celebrate his first and only Formula One World Championship.