Preview to season seven of 24

Jack Bauer season 7

Jack Bauer’s nightmare day will become even worst judging by this exciting new trailer promoting season seven of the hit ‘real-time’ drama that is 24.

The new season will be set several months after season 6 with season 7 beginning and ending at 7:00 AM. The new series will be broadcast in America early next year followed soon on Sky One here in the UK.

Kiefer Sutherland, the Emmy award-winning actor, will play the role as Jack Bauer but this new season promises to be a more personal story than the previous six seasons of the show.

The initial back-story will feature Jack on trial for his actions in the pursuit of justice. Meanwhile a major national security breach occurs when the firewall responsible for protecting America’s government computer infrastructure is breached.

For the first time in 24 history, a female president will be featured as opposed to the Palmer brothers. Cherry Jones will play President Allison Taylor. But the most surprising character to return to the show is Tony Almeida (yes, that’s right he is not dead)! Carlos Bernard will reprise his role as this season’s main antagonist.

In addition, this will be the first season that Jack Bauer is not working for CTU.

In the trailer Jack is appearing before Congress concerning his past extralegal activities, particularly the torture of Ibrahim Haddad. Haddad was a terrorist who targeted a bus carrying 45 people, 10 of which were children. Jack therefore stopped that attack from happening.

It is revealed that the season’s crisis involves a breach of the “CIP firewall” that protects every major infrastructure system, leaving telecommunications, transportation, and power grids vulnerable (though this reminds me to the plot of Bruce Willis’s all-action movie that is Die Hard 4.0).

Shockingly, Tony Almeida is part of this national crisis and we will see a new side to him, playing a villain!

Even the FBI is seeking assistance to the man who doesn’t go to sleep or take comfort breaks! Can Jack Bauer save the world again? Find out next year when 24 season seven returns to the small screen.

Click here to view the two minute preview.

Update: Due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, Fox has just decided to postpone the previously scheduled January 13 premiere of 24’s seventh season to ensure that when 24 does return, Day 7 can air uninterrupted, in it’s entirety. At present, only about one-third of the 24 episodes have been filmed.

Hirvonen wins the Rally of Japan as title rivals crash out

Rally of Japan 2007 winner

Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen secured his third victory of his World Rally Championship career with a comfortable win over Dani Sordo in the Rally of Japan.

The Ford Rallye Sport driver kept his composure superbly in tricky conditions that saw both title contenders Marcus Grönholm and Sébastien Loeb, and early rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala, all crashing out within the first day.

It was a dramatic blow for both Grönholm and Loeb’s title chances. Marcus lost control of his Ford Focus on the first day of the event – which resulted in a damaged rollcage! As for the triple WRC champion, Sébastien should have benefited from his rival’s misfortune but he too went off the road after co-driver Daniel Elena misread a pace note…

Unlike Grönholm, the Citroen was able to resume under the Super Rally regulations the next day. The Frenchman took four stage wins but retired from the event after oil pressure problems in the penultimate stage. The result means that Grönholm is still four points ahead with two rounds remaining.

It is going to be a close contest between the two. Marcus will be determined to finish his WRC career in style with a championship win (the Finn will retire at the end of this year). For Sébastien, he wants to win the title for the fourth successive year, driving the brand-new Citroen C4 rally car. Who will win the ultimate prize? Let’s see how the final two rally events will throw in this fascinating season of the World Rally Championship.

Raikkonen takes the championship after thrilling race in Brazil

Kimi Raikkonen World Champion 2007

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen takes the 2007 Formula One World Championship against all odds by beating Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in a dramatic race in Sao Paulo.

It was a thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix from start to finish. Kimi Raikkonen deserves the championship and it was a great result for the Iceman after so many years of trying. What a shame that Lewis Hamilton lost out in the final race in Brazil. He was the favourite to win after qualifying an excellent second position, but in the race he had problems…

On the first lap, Kimi Raikkonen accelerated off the starting grid to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton into the Senna S. Lewis lost momentum behind the two Ferraris which allow Fernando Alonso to slip through on the inside at Curva do Sol. The championship leader tried to retaliate into the Descida do Lago corner, only to lock a brake and run wide onto the run-off area, falling to eighth place.

Eight laps later, his hopes of winning the title came at the worst possible moment when his car suddenly slowed. Exiting Descida do Lago, he flicked the gearshift paddle on his steering wheel to change up but found a boxful of neutrals…

As his McLaren stuttered to find a gear, car after car went by. Lewis managed to get going again after making some urgent radio instructions to the pits on how to fix it. But by now, he was down to 18th position and was more than 40 seconds behind the race leader Felipe Massa…

Hamilton was in a desperate situation as his two title rivals Alonso and Raikkonen were ahead of him on the track. He had to charge through the field in order to score some points to keep his championship hopes alive… alas, this wasn’t to be. Even though he pulled off some spectacular overtaking passes to move up the leading board, including on Rubens Barrichello’s Honda into the first corner, Lewis simply lacked pace compared to the Ferraris. It was a cruel blow to lose the title after sixteen rounds of this epic season of Formula One racing in the final race. To finish seventh was a disappointment, but Lewis should be proud by his achievements in his first season, including those nine consecutive podium finishes and four Grand Prix victories.

As for Fernando Alonso, the double world champion struggled to be on the same lap times as the two red cars. He made the decisive move on his McLaren team-mate on the first lap to take third, but then on, failed to make any progress. The Spaniard even dropped to fourth at one point, when Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber overtook him into the Senna S. He regained third when Kubica made his pitstop. Alonso lost the championship by a single point to Kimi Raikkonen after finishing in a distant third…

For Felipe Massa, the crowd favourite didn’t win his home race but the Brazilian should be satisfied by his performance in Sao Paulo. Led from pole position. Lapped consistently without any mistakes and to finish a close second behind the 2007 champion was a fantastic result for Massa and Ferrari.

Finishing in fourth goes to Nico Rosberg in the Williams. The German drove a great race and he was lucky not to get involved in a shunt with Nick Heidfeld with 11 laps to the chequered flag. Both cars went wide into the first corner, which let Heidfeld’s BMW team-mate Kubica through, but Rosberg was able to catch him and grab fourth on the penultimate lap.

The lapped Hamilton finished the race in seventh but the result in Brazil means he finishes second in the drivers’ standing after leading it for the last five months… Toyota’s Jarno Trulli made a late pit stop to finish in the last remaining points finish with eighth.

David Coulthard finished in ninth position for Red Bull Racing despite colliding into Formula One newcomer Kazuki Nakajima at the first corner. The Japanese driver recorded his first Formula One result with tenth, though his race was marred when he slid into his Williams pit crew at his first pit stop, leaving two mechanics with minor injuries.

As for the last year’s champions, the Renault F1 team had a disastrous season finale. Both Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen suffered damage in the opening laps. The Italian was involved in a violently crash with Spyker’s Sakon Yamamoto after running across the grass at the Senna S. For Kovalainen, the Finn lost his front wing in the first corner incident. He managed to get this replaced in the pits but some laps later, had a heavy crash in Curva do Sol…

So after a dramatic season of racing, it was Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen that wins this season’s Formula One World Championship. The Finn took his sixth victory of the year – the most by any driver – and his first world title in seven years of trying! A fantastic result for the ‘Iceman’ especially when you consider that at one point in the season, the Ferrari driver was 26 points behind Lewis Hamilton…

It was also a fantastic result for Ferrari with a one-two finish at Interlagos. The Italian team had earlier won the constructors’ championship after rival McLaren were excluded over that controversy spygate verdict.

Better luck next time Lewis Hamilton. Your time will come. Congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen and the Scuderia Marlboro Ferrari team on winning the drivers’ and constructors’ titles this season.

Brazilian Grand Prix result, Interlagos, 71 laps

1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1h28:15.270
2. MASSA Ferrari +1.4s
3. ALONSO McLaren +57.0
4. ROSBERG Williams +62.8s
5. KUBICA BMW +70.9s
6. HEIDFELD BMW +71.3s
7. HAMILTON McLaren +1 lap
8. TRULLI Toyota +1 lap
9. COULTHARD Red Bull +1 lap
10. NAKAJIMA Williams +1 lap
11. SCHUMACHER Toyota +1 lap
12. SATO Super Aguri +2 laps
13. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +2 laps
14. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +3 laps
R. SUTIL Spyker +28 laps
R. BARRICHELLO Honda +31 laps
R. KOVALAINEN Renault +36 laps
R. VETTEL Toro Rosso +37 laps
R. BUTTON Honda +51 laps
R. WEBBER Red Bull +57 laps
R. FISICHELLA Renault +69 laps
R. YAMAMOTO Spyker +69 laps

Fastest lap: RAIKKONEN, 1min. 12.445 secs.

Final World Championship standings, after round 17:


1. Raikkonen 110
2. Hamilton 109
3. Alonso 109
4. Massa 94
5. Heidfeld 61
6. Kubica 39
7. Kovalainen 30
8. Fisichella 21
9. Rosberg 20
10. Coulthard 14
11. Wurz 13
12. Webber 10
13. Trulli 8
14. Vettel 6
15. Button 6
16. R.Schumacher 5
17. Sato 4
18. Liuzzi 3
19. Sutil 1


1. Ferrari 204
2. BMW Sauber 101
3. Renault 51
4. Williams-Toyota 33
5. Red Bull-Renault 24
6. Toyota 13
7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8
8. Honda 6
9. Super Aguri-Honda 4
10. Spyker-Ferrari 1
11. McLaren-Mercedes EXC

Hamilton on the front row in Brazil, as Massa takes pole

Massa Brazil 2007

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is on the verge on winning this season’s title with a superb second position despite home crowd hero Felipe Massa taking pole position at Interlagos.

Hamilton will have two of his main championship contenders behind him with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen third followed by McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso. Both the Iceman and the double world champion will have a difficult job in stopping Hamilton winning his first drivers’ title.

Mark Webber produced an outstanding job with fifth in the Red Bull. It was the best qualifying result for the Australian this season, ahead of both BMW-Saubers. Nick Heidfeld pipped his team-mate Robert Kubica by a small margin of 0.048 seconds. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli is in eighth position with David Coulthard ninth and Nico Rosberg’s Williams completing the top ten.

Lewis is in a prime position with a front row start in Sunday’s title-deciding race. He holds a four-point lead in the standings and will be going for the Grand Prix win in order to take the championship in style. But if Massa takes the chequered flag after 71 laps around the bumpy and demanding Sao Paulo race circuit, Hamilton will still take the prize by finishing ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso.

For the double world champion, the Spaniard is disadvantage not only is he running the Mercedes-Benz engine for the second race in row – but he also has two rivals ahead of him on the grid. Alonso only chance of winning his third successive drivers’ title will be going for the outright win and hoping that Hamilton finishes at least fourth or lower. He needs to score four points more than his McLaren rival to win. A tall order for Fernando after a disappointing fourth position.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, it would have been ideal to start alongside his Ferrari team-mate Massa on the front of the Brazilian grid. But since Hamilton grabbed second position due to his stunning second split time in qualifying, the Finn was forced down to third. Nevertheless, the Ferraris seems to have a slight edge in outright speed and the Iceman will take comfort that he can overtake the leading McLaren with a run into the first corner. Nothing less than race victory will do for Kimi and he hopes that both McLarens will score fewer points to take the title.

For Felipe Massa – taking his second successive pole position in Brazil with a lap time of one minute, 11.931 seconds – the Brazilian will have a difficult job in deciding the outcome of the championship. The Ferrari driver needs to play a supporting role for his team-mate, in order for the Iceman to win the title. In addition, he must prevent Lewis in going for the race win. So, what will it be? Go for race victory or not? It is down to the Ferrari team to manage the situation.

Whatever the outcome, Lewis Hamilton is looking the favourite to win the title thanks to his important P2 on the grid. If he does do the job in hand, then Lewis will join the impressive list of British drivers that won the Formula One drivers’ title including Jim Clark, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill. In addition, he will become the first F1 rookie to win the title in his debut season driving a McLaren that last won the championship back in 1999 (when Mika Hakkinen took the honours). My advice for Lewis Hamilton is to don’t take unnecessary risks in the Brazilian Grand Prix like staying out too long on worn Bridgestone tyres (like in China). As the saying goes in motor racing: “To finish first, first you have to finish.” Do this Lewis and you will become champion of the world in Formula One.

Brazilian Grand Prix starting grid

1. MASSA Ferrari 1:11.931
2. HAMILTON McLaren 1:12.082
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1:12.322
4. ALONSO McLaren 1:12.356
5. WEBBER Red Bull 1:12.928
6. HEIDFELD BMW 1:13.081
7. KUBICA BMW 1:13.129
8. TRULLI Toyota 1:13.195
9. COULTHARD Red Bull 1:13.272
10. ROSBERG Williams 1:13.477
11. BARRICHELLO Honda 1:12.932
12. FISICHELLA Renault 1:12.968
13. VETTEL Toro Rosso 1:13.058
14. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1:13.251
15. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1:13.315
16. BUTTON Honda 1:13.469
17. KOVALAINEN Renault 1:14.078
18. SATO Super Aguri 1:14.098
19. NAKAJIMA Williams 1:14.417
20. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1:14.596
21. SUTIL Spyker 1:15.217
22. YAMAMOTO Spyker 1:15.487

Three-way showdown. Who will win the ultimate prize in Formula One?

Championship showdown 2007

This weekend is the big one. After sixteen rounds of this year’s ultra competitive Formula One season, three drivers are on the verge of winning the drivers’ title in Brazil. Will it be Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso or even Kimi Raikkonen who will take home the greatest prize in F1?

Well, let’s talk about the three contenders starting off with British sensational Lewis Hamilton. The Formula One rookie is currently leading the standings with 107 points, despite his mishap in China after staying out too long on extremely worn out Bridgestones… The McLaren driver has been leading the championship since the beginning and he looks the ideal candidate to become the sport’s youngest ever champion. Lewis needs to win the Brazilian Grand Prix or finish close behind his main rival, Fernando Alonso, to clinch his first ever title. If Hamilton manages to do this, it will be the greatest achievement ever for a Formula One rookie. In addition, the first British champion since Damon Hill back in 1996!

It’s fascinating to see the amount of press coverage, in particular the UK, on Lewis Hamilton this year. It’s great for the sport, as Formula One has become mainstream attracting new audience who are not fans of motor racing or F1. In addition, his achievements (nine consecutive podium finishes and four Grand Prix victories) is nothing short of amazement that has even inspired a whole generation of young British drivers – who are starting in karting – to become the next big thing. It is such a privilege that the ‘brand’ of Lewis is making F1 popular and if he wins the championship, it will be the greatest story in the modern era of motor racing.

His arch-rival in the championship is his very own team-mate Fernando Alonso. The double world champion is only four points behind but he has a slight chance of winning his triple title bar any incidents in Sao Paulo… Since voicing his opinions strongly to the Spanish press about his unfair treatment at McLaren all year, in particular his tense relationship with Ron Dennis (team boss at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) and Hamilton, Fernando has become the ‘villain’ of Formula One. Many fans have questioned his comments about giving the team ‘six tenths of a second’ since he joined from Renault that some believe he has become too arrogant. I must admit, Fernando should stop mouthing his selfish opinions and just get on with the job of winning races. Yes, you are threatened by your team-mate’s startlingly pace in the other silver car, but you have the racing experience to beat him! So shut up and just drive the wheels of that MP-22 and win the championship to silence all those doubters! That’s the best way to settle the score at McLaren, no matter if you want to get out as soon as possible…

As for the whole spygate controversy, that has rocked the politics of Formula One this season, the simple fact that Alonso and team test driver Pedro de la Rosa were involving in exchanging technical information with Ferrari makes me believe that Alonso wants to leave the team immediately. You can really sense the tense atmosphere in the pit garages at McLaren, as the Spaniard believes the team are not giving him the fair sporting treatment a double world champion deserves…

Right, lets focus on the third candidate who has an outside chance of winning the championship – Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The ‘Iceman’ has had an uneasy time settling in the Ferrari team after Michael Schumacher announced his retirement late last year. It was a difficult trial period for the Finn and Scuderia, but since Kimi is regarded as the fastest driver in Formula One, it was fantastic to see his first victory in the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne. You would expect the Finn to romp to countless race wins and possibly the championship, but since that race win in Australia, Kimi seems to be struggling to adapt to his ‘aggressive’ driving style in the red car running on the hard (and control) Bridgestone tyres… But after a few races, he was back on form by winning Grands Prix and setting fastest laps. Raikkonen’s victory in Shanghai was crucial as he has a somewhat decent opportunity to win the title. Okay, he is seven points behind Lewis Hamilton and the odds are stacked against him, but he loves a challenge and if the Ferrari is fast on the bumpy Interlagos circuit, you can expect the Iceman to put on an impressive drive. Team-mate Felipe Massa could play a joker hand by providing support and going for the home victory himself! But in a recent interview, Massa would do whatever it takes to support Kimi’s title ambitions.

So who will win the ultimate prize in Formula One? To be honest, I would like to see Alonso or Raikkonen to triumph, as both have driven superbly all season. Yes, Lewis Hamilton is in the prime position to succeed and many fans will be supporting him to win it. But I really want to see Alonso winning his third title or perhaps Kimi’s first! We shall find out who will be spraying the champagne on Sunday evening. Let battle commence!

Loeb takes third Corsica win and closes gap to Grönholm

Loeb France 2007

Three times World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb has closed to within four points of Marcus Grönholm after clinching a third consecutive Tour de Corse victory.

The Frenchman won nine of the 15 special stages to finish 23.7 seconds ahead of Grönholm’s Ford Focus. Dani Sordo finished a further 20 seconds behind.

It was Loeb’s seventh victory in 13 rallies and if the Frenchman continues his winning success by taking victory in the next three rally events, Loeb would retain his title.

In order for Grönholm to keep his title ambitions alive, he must finish ahead of the Citroen in the remaining events in this year’s competitive World Rally Championship.

The next rally will take place in Japan at the end of the month.


Ratatouille scene

After the misfire of Cars, Pixar returns with a delightful story on a rat that seeks to become the best chef in the heart of Paris. With Ratatouille, the animated geniuses behind such great hits like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo has provided a stunning and entertaining journey into a life of a small rodent that loves to cook.

Being a fan of Disney/Pixar films, I love the simple beauty of the CGI visuals. The advancement of computer technology has made the images even more photo-realistic over the last few years but I always take the pleasure that the studio is there to tell a story with fascinating characters. And with Ratatouille, the idea that Remy can inspire the love of preparing a meal is a sight to behold, no matter if he is seen as a street vermin.

Ratatouille is written and directed by Brad Bird, whose previous Pixar hit with The Incredibles was by far my favourite in the digitally-animated series. His talent is on par with the legendary Hayao Miyazaki by providing enthralling stories and characters in an emotionally driven movie. In fact, the director has gone from strength to strength since The Iron Giant and I am sure his next hit will be even more special.

The voice acting from the likes of Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Peter Sohn, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy and Peter O’Toole are sensational and give these characters a sense of poetic warmth to the viewer.

Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a little rat who dreams of becoming a chef just like his idol, the human Gusteau (Brad Garrett). After a mishap, Remy loses his family in the sewers and comes upon a fading restaurant that had previously been owned by Gusteau before his untimely death. There he comes upon a lowly garbage boy, Linguini (Lou Romano), and together they set out to revive the once-legendary restaurant.

Ratatouille is filled with plenty of surprises that will amuse and excite. As for the animation, this is by far the best than any other Disney/Pixar productions. The breathtaking landscape of Paris adds a layer of realism to the movie, while the food looking so real it must be delicious!

In summary, you couldn’t ask for more than an entertaining movie with Ratatouille. It has become a new benchmark with amazing animation and visuals. Not forgetting Pixar’s sense of humour that will delight the young and old. An instant classic.

Kiefer Sutherland faces 48 days behind bars

Kiefer Sutherland arrest

Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland will serve 48 days in jail after pleading no contest to two misdemeanour counts of driving under the influence. The 24 star was charged after police witnessed him making an illegal U-turn in Los Angeles last month.

A breath test allegedly resulted in Kiefer having twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system…

In a statement, the actor apologised for his “poor judgement” and the “distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers”.

Sutherland was not in court as his lawyer, Blair Berk, entered the plea agreement. A second charge of driving under the influence of alcohol was dropped. His arrangement means that filming on the seventh series of hit ‘real-time’ drama 24 will not be interrupted, drawing praise from his bosses at television network Fox.

“Kiefer made clear to us at the time of his arrest that his first concern was the welfare of those he worked with and that he intended to do whatever was necessary to prevent shutting down the show,” it said in a statement.

“He told us that even if he had to sacrifice more time in custody in order to protect the show and the jobs of those who work with him, he would do so. From what occurred today, it is evident he is a man of his word.”

The jail sentence consists of 30 days for driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit, and 18 days for violating his probation, according to court records. Under the terms of his agreement, Kiefer must serve the time in full.

In addition, Sutherland is banned from driving for six months and was ordered to attend alcohol education classes for the next 18 months.

Loeb closes in on Grönholm with Spain victory

Loeb Catalunya 2007

Sébastien Loeb has cut into Marcus Grönholm’s championship lead to six points with a crucial victory in the Rallye de Catalunya.

The reigning World Rally Champion led for the majority of the rally event. His Citroen team-mate, Dani Sordo, also scored points away from Grönholm by finishing second.

“This is important for the championship,” said Loeb. “I hope we can do the same results on the tarmac rallies to come, and then for the rest we will see.”

The next event in the WRC will be Corsica, a tarmac event similar to Catalunya. Championship leader Grönholm will be determined to finish on a high note after losing time on the first few stages in Spain.

“I lost 34 seconds in the wet on Friday,” the Finn said. “I was not confident to drive with the hard slick, I was too careful. Now we hope for better luck in Corsica. I was second there last year, and hopefully we can do the same, at least.”

With only four events left, the Finn must score points consistently with top podium finishes if he wants to win this year’s title. For Loeb, he can continue his charge by winning events to close down the gap. It’s game on for the Frenchman!

Raikkonen wins in Shanghai and takes title down to the wire

Kimi Raikkonen China Winner

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton started the day with a 12-point advantage, but ended it with a trip into the gravel which resulted in two of his title contenders – Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso – to draw closer in the world championship as the season reaches its dramatic finale in Brazil with three drivers aiming for the ultimate prize in Formula One.

With Raikkonen winning the Chinese Grand Prix and Alonso finishing in second, Hamilton now leads the standings by four over his McLaren team-mate and seven over the Ferrari driver. The race in Shanghai was a disaster for the British Formula One rookie and perhaps, dented his confidence in taking the title for himself.

Hamilton had earlier dominated the wet opening stages of the 56-lap race, but stayed out too long on extremely worn intermediates tyres. The team left the decision too late for Lewis to change his worn-out Bridgestones and when he did enter the pit lane, ran wide and was breached in the gravel. The engineers and McLaren team boss Ron Dennis was left helpless as the championship leader was forced out of the race.

Until that dramatic moment, Lewis looked on course to clinch the drivers’ title in China… The race began well for the championship leader, as rain before the start meant all the drivers opted for the standard wet-weather tyres from Bridgestone. Lewis made a perfect getaway from pole position to lead into the first corner and was comfortably pulling away from the rest – as much as one second per lap quicker.

By lap 15, the race leader made his first schedule pit stop taking on more fuel but without a change of tyres. This handed the lead to Raikkonen, who made his own stop four laps later. Hamilton was now pushing hard in his McLaren-Mercedes determined to retake his race lead but in do so, exceeded the tyre wear on his intermediates Bridgestones… Further back, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were locked in a private battle for third. At this stage of the Chinese Grand Prix, all four drivers were running their original tyres through their pit stops.

The expected rain shower held off and as the track began to dry out, some drivers (in particular Alex Wurz in the Williams) decided to take a gamble and change back onto the dry-weather ‘groove’ tyres. It worked and was now lapping much faster than the race leaders. But with another shower forecast, the top teams were unwilling to risk a premature tyre change…

As Hamilton began to suffer badly with tyre wear, Rakkionen was closing right behind in a matter of seconds. The McLaren was sliding around all over the place, struggling for grip. Lewis tried in vain to defend his race lead from the gripper Ferrari but on lap 28, Kimi slipped by when Lewis ran wide into Turn 8.

The day before, the championship leader spoke about the Ferrari’s characteristic of being kinder to its Bridgestones in long race stints and that proved crucial. Lewis was simply struggling for grip everywhere, hanging on for his second schedule stop on lap 31. When the time came, it was the prelude to disaster. As he came into the pits, Hamilton slid wide on the entry left-hander and ran into the gravel bed at low speed. He could not find enough traction to get out and despite urging the track marshals to assist him by giving the car a push, the championship leader was forced to give up and retire from a Formula One race for the first time…

His race was over and this handed the crucial lifeline for his main championship rivals Raikkonen and Alonso. And after making their pit stops to dry tyres, the pair went on to finish in the top two positions.

Kimi Raikkonen’s victory was his fifth this season and the team’s 200th Grand Prix overall. His team-mate Felipe Massa finished in third place but effectively is now out of the championship running after two poor races in Asia (the Brazilian finished in sixth at Fuji last weekend).

As for Fernando Alonso, his ‘miracle’ came true as his main championship rival was forced out of the race. But it remains a tall order for the Spaniard to win his third drivers’ title in Brazil. He will need to win the Interlagos race with Lewis in third to take the championship, so a repeat of Hamilton’s misfortune will be needed in order for Alonso to take the ultimate win.

Finishing in fourth went to Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Toro Rosso. The German made up for his Fuji gaffe though he was lucky to make his single-stop strategy work as far as the timing of the change in weather conditions was concerned but nevertheless, this was a fine performance by Vettel even after he started the race in the low end of the grid after impeding another driver during qualifying… His team-mate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, finished in sixth meant Toro Rosso scored big points in China.

Honda’s Jenson Button drove another impressive race to finish between the Toro Rosso pair with fifth. At one stage, Jenson even set the fastest lap times after switching to the softer-compound-dry weather tyres at the crucial stage.

Behind Liuzzi, BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld took seventh position after losing out when the track conditions changed. The German was less than a second behind the Italian’s Toro Rosso. Team-mate Robert Kubica actually led the race at one point during the Chinese Grand Prix when Raikkonen and Alonso made their final stops, but was forced into a late retirement with hydraulic failure. Thus the final point went to Red Bull Racing and David Coulthard. The Scot just managed to hold off Heikki Kovalainen’s Renault all the way to the chequered flag.

The next round of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship will be the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. This bumpy circuit will set the scene for a three-way fight between the top three drivers in this dramatic season of F1 racing. Hamilton has 107 points, but Alonso is now up to 103 and Raikkonen 100. Not since 1986, when outsider Alain Prost beat favourites Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, have three drivers fought it out to the last round. It should be a nail-biting race between the young Formula One rookie, the two-time champion and the ‘Iceman’. Who will win? Roll on Brazil!

Chinese Grand Prix result – 56 laps

1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1h37:58.395s
2. ALONSO McLaren +9.8s
3. MASSA Ferrari +12.8s
4. VETTEL Toro Rosso +53.5s
5. BUTTON Honda +1m08.6s
6. LIUZZI Toro Rosso +1m13.6s
7. HEIDFELD BMW +1m14.2s
8. COULTHARD Red Bull +1m20.7s
9. KOVALAINEN Renault +1m21.1s
10. WEBBER Red Bull +1m24.6s
11. FISICHELLA Renault +1m26.6s
12. WURZ Williams +1 lap
13. TRULLI Toyota +1 lap
14. SATO Super Aguri +1 lap
15. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
16. ROSBERG Williams +2 laps
17. YAMAMOTO Spyker +3 laps
R. KUBICA BMW +23 laps
R. HAMILTON McLaren +26 laps
R. SCHUMACHER Toyota +31 laps
R. SUTIL Spyker +32 laps
R. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +45 laps

Fastest lap: MASSA 1:37.454