Ferrari F2008 (2008) Brazilian GP
Scuderia Ferrari’s competitor for the 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, the F2008 aimed to replicate the team’s Championship-winning double of the previous season. Piloted by 2007 Drivers’ Champion Kimi Räikkönen and Brazilian racer Felipe Massa, the car was the fifty-fourth single-seater built by the Italian team specifically for Formula 1. The design, codenamed internally as the 659, represented the Scuderia's interpretation of the 2008 regulations.
A major new element was the introduction of a new electronic system to be used by all teams, known as SECU (Standard Electronic Control Unit), produced by McLaren Electronic Systems. It consisted of a single control unit and a software system, the development of which ends as the season begins. As a result of the rules concerning safety, gearbox and materials, as well as the learnings of its 2007 season predecessor, there was an increase in the overall weight of the car over the previous F2007. All of the F2008’s aerodynamic surfaces were completely revised, whilst the monocoque was further cut away under the driver's legs and the side pods and engine cover are more tapered. The suspension system was reworked and developed around the new aerodynamics. The wheelbase and weight distribution were adapted to maximise performance from the Bridgestone tyres. The braking system was updated with new callipers and innovative concepts regarding cooling. The basic structure of the 056 engine remained unchanged, though its auxiliary systems, air and fuel intakes were further developed. Changes to the technical and sporting regulations in terms of electronics led to the removal of a host of driver aids, such as traction control, engine braking and the electronically assisted starting system. Ferrari’s technical partners contributed to the design and development stages of the entire car: Shell with the lubricants for the gearbox, the Fiat Research Centre in providing simulation systems; and Brembo for its work in developing the braking system.
The F2008 suffered a poor start at the opening Grand Prix in Australia, with Massa retiring after 26 laps because of a collision with the Red Bull of David Coulthard. Räikkönen’s suffered engine failure five laps from the end, but still scored a point as only six cars made the chequered flag. At the next race in Malaysia, the duo both qualified on the front row and controlled the race flawlessly, until Massa spun off the track at the halfway stage. Räikkönen endured and took the victory. The following three races saw the Ferrari hit its stride, with two consecutive 1-2 victories – Massa in Bahrain, Räikkönen in Spain – and a 1-3 finish led by Massa at the Turkish Grand Prix. The team emerged disappointed from the subsequent race in Monaco after a strong qualifying performance saw the Ferraris on the front row. Mistakes from both drivers saw Massa fall to third, whilst Räikkönen finished outside the points entirely in ninth. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Massa managed to secure a fifth placed finish after technical problems forced a second pit stop, whilst Räikkönen retired after being crashed into the pit lane by Lewis Hamilton. Race eight of the season had the Ferraris once again in the ascendancy, converting a front row lockout into a third 1-2 victory of the season, despite Räikkönen suffering from a broken exhaust pipe. The team continued scoring points in the following three races before the summer recess, each driver claiming a podium each, but two victories for McLaren and strong points for BMW-Sauber saw both teams closing the gap. The Ferrari duo trailed Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship but were both within eight points.
Rejuvenated after the summer recess, Massa claimed back-to-back victories in Spain and Belgium and outscored Hamilton at the team’s home race at Monza, reducing lead at the top to one point with five races remaining. Räikkönen hit a bad patch, earning no points in the first four races after the recess after crashes in Spain and Singapore and poor reliability elsewhere. He would recover to claim three third place podium finishes in the final three races, points that proved crucial to Ferrari’s title challenge. Massa failed to scored points in Singapore after a mistake in the pit stop, losing ground on his title rival, though the tables turned at the next race in Japan as Massa finished seventh, despite a penalty for causing a collision with Hamilton. Massa scored second place in the penultimate race in China though Hamilton won the race, further extending his Championship lead. Going into the climax in Brazil, Hamilton led by seven points, whilst Ferrari also headed McLaren-Mercedes by eleven points. Buoyed by his home support in changeable wet/dry conditions, Massa earned himself pole position and controlled the race flawlessly, taking a controlled victory thirteen seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Renault. As he crossed reached the chequered flag, Massa was leading the Championship, as Hamilton was only sixth, battling the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel for the crucial point needed. However, Vettel and Hamilton passed Timo Glock in the final corners, the Toyota driver struggling for grip as his dry-weather tyres slid on the wet track, turning joy to disappoint in the Ferrari garage in one of the most dramatic moments in Formula 1 history. Despite this disappointment, Ferrari had sealed the Constructors’ Championship for the second successive season.
Overall, the F2008 earned eight race wins, eleven further podiums, eight pole positions and thirteen fastest laps, scoring 172 points and winning the World Constructors’ Championship. Felipe Massa finished one point behind eventual World Champion Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, whilst Kimi Räikkönen secured third, placing higher than Robert Kubica thanks to his two race wins. Räikkönen's fastest lap at the Spanish Grand Prix remained the lap record for a decade. As of 2021, the F2008 remains the most recent Ferrari to win a World Championship.
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