The 2007 F1 season was a roller-coaster of a journey for quite a few drivers. Although Lewis Hamilton led the standings with two races to go, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen claimed the championship as his, racking up consecutive race wins to end a fascinating season.
But in the buildup to the season finale, there were a few more contenders involved in the race for the title. Ferrari’s other driver, Felipe Massa, and Fernando Alonso were those names in the mix.
So, when the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix came about, Massa needed a good finish in the race to keep his title hopes alive. But on the final lap, he faced a determined challenge from one of the most talented drivers the sport has seen.
Entering Round 15 of the season, Massa sat in fourth with 77 points to his name. His teammate Raikkonen was one place in front of him. Both Ferrari drivers needed wins to get close to standings leader Lewis Hamilton, who had accumulated 97 points at that time.
Qualifying at Suzuka saw Massa achieve a starting position of P4, behind Hamilton, Alonso, and Raikkonen. Owing to a 10-place grid penalty to Nico Rosberg, Kubica, in his BMW Sauber, got promoted to start in P9.
As the race went on, the Brazilian started to lose a little bit of his pace, with the rain pouring down incessantly. With the first 19 laps led by the safety car, Massa came into the pits, losing out on vital track positions.
But, charging forward on the last lap, Massa faced an enthusiastic Kubica, who came increasingly close to making contact with him. Across the difficult corners, both cars got off track several times but made sure they came back on to continue the challenge.
Eventually, Massa pipped Kubica to take home sixth. Although that ended the Brazilian’s title challenge, it was a race that to this day reminds fans of the brilliance and nail-biting finishes F1 is capable of producing.