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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Kimi Raikkonen captures Formula One title

Kimi Raikkonen is known as "The Iceman," and he more than kept his cool Sunday, winning the Brazilian Grand Prix and capturing the Formula One title in the tightest race for the championship in 21 years.

Raikkonen won his first F1 crown by taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton's mistake on the first lap and a subsequent gearbox problem with his McLaren, combined with Fernando Alonso's disappointing run.

The Ferrari driver took the lead with 21 laps to go, rallying from third in the drivers' standings to win the closest title race since 1986. Teammate Felipe Massa was second Sunday.

"We had very good speed in both cars," Raikkonen said. "Were just taking it easy, saving the tires and the cars. We could have gone much faster it we wanted to. It was perfect teamwork from the team and it paid off very well."

Hamilton, trying to become the first rookie to win the title and F1's youngest champion, went off the track on the first lap and went on to finish seventh. Alonso finished third.

"I went into the race and said to myself, 'Whatever happens today, it's been a phenomenal year,'" Hamilton said. "Who would've thought I would be leading the world championship during the last races? It's a great feeling being in that position. The team did a phenomenal job all year."

Alonso would have had to finish second and Hamilton fifth to keep Raikkonen from winning the drivers' championship after his victory.

There were some doubts after the race whether Raikkonen would keep the title, however, as Formula One's governing body — FIA — opened up an investigation into possible fuel irregularities.

FIA called a meeting involving representatives from BMW-Sauber and Williams, whose drivers finished fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th, and if at least two of them were punished, Hamilton could have moved up to fifth and taken the title.

Nearly six hours after the race, FIA said there wasn't enough evidence to penalize the drivers or the teams.

Raikkonen erased a seven-point gap behind Hamilton coming into the race to finish with 110 points, one more than Hamilton and Alonso.

"This is a great feeling," Raikkonen said. "We had some hard times, some reliability problems and lost some points. A lot of people didn't believe in us, but we showed that they were wrong and we were able to come back. It was a great season."

The Finn was reserved in his celebrations on the podium, waving his cap to the crowd before briefly throwing his arms in the air, the AP reports.

Under technical regulations, fuel temperatures on board F-1 racing cars aren't allowed to drop 10 degrees Celsius below air temperature. According to race data, Williams and BMW Sauber exceeded this range. Stewards decided not to impose sanctions after ``lengthy deliberations,'' the Web site said.

Had Rosberg, Kubica and Heidfeld been stripped of their points, Hamilton would have been promoted to fourth and become the first rookie to win the title.

Hamilton, starting on the front row of the grid, was overtaken by Raikkonen at the start and made a mistake that dropped him to sixth on the first lap. The Briton then slid to 18th when he had gearbox difficulties. Television pictures showed him struggling with his car's push-button gear controls.

“ There was nothing we could do, we did the best job we could,” Hamilton told BBC radio. “Who'd have thought I'd be ranked No. 2 in my first year of Formula One?”

McLaren manager Ron Dennis praised the efforts of his team, which missed out on its first championship in eight years. The driving title returned to Ferrari for the first time in three years after Alonso's double success at Renault, Bloomberg reports.

Source: agencies