Lewis Hamilton travelled to the Shanghai International Circuit for the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix with a 12 point advantage in the drivers’ standings.
It had been a remarkable debut season for the Brit, who had scored three race wins and eight further podium finishes up until the penultimate round of the year.
He needed to finish within one point of his team-mate Fernando Alonso and six points of Kimi Raikkonen to clinch the championship, but he would be leading whatever the outcome in China. However, that weekend saw his title chances start to slip away.
The Grand Prix started in promising style after he secured pole position for Sunday’s race by just over one tenth of a second from the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was also in contention for the title albeit 17 points down.
The race began in wet conditions, with the intermediate Bridgestone compound being the tyre of choice for all 22 drivers. The top four held position early on but as the track dried out, McLaren decided to keep Hamilton out on their original strategy.
It backfired terribly. He was passed by Raikkonen on lap 31 after running wide before he was eventually given the call to pit by the Woking-based outfit.
The pit entry at the 3.39 mile is far from straightforward and with tyres worn down to the canvas; Hamilton failed to negotiate the tricky left-hander. On most modern tracks, he would have gotten away with the error and made it to his pit box after a brief trip across the run-off area.
However, this wasn’t the case in China. His McLaren dramatically slithered off the track and through the deep gravel trap, where he eventually became beached.
Hamilton ground to a halt and began frantically gesturing for marshals to try and push the car. Their efforts proved to be unsuccessful and he eventually admitting defeat.
Raikkonen went on to win the race from Alonso and Massa, slashing the lead in the championship and taking the fight to the final round in Brazil. Of course, we all know what happened next.