Guest Author - Christine Blachford
At the beginning of 2008, it seemed as though Kimi Raikkonen was on the right track to defend his World Championship title from the previous season. He won a couple of the early races and was showing well compared to his team mate Felipe Massa. However, things started to go wrong, and Kimi began to struggle both in qualifying and in the races themselves.
By Monaco, Massa was turning things round. He began to creep towards number one status within the team, gradually taking the best strategies and maximising his own performance. Although Raikkonen was a championship contender until very near the end of the season, it was obvious that Massa was the one to watch. He narrowly missed out on the driver's title, but his win in Brazil, and Kimi's podium finish allowed Ferrari to take their eighth constructors title out of the last ten years.
That's an incredible statistic, one that is mostly down to the formidable records Michael Schumacher achieved. Nevertheless, both Kimi and Felipe have added their part to the last two constructors titles taken by the red team, and that shouldn't be taken away from them. Sadly, there is always the edge with any Ferrari success, that the FIA are favouring them in some way. It's no secret that they are paid above and beyond other teams to remain in the sport, given their heritage and success. However, questionable penalties were given this year that favoured Ferrari, and it's unfortunate that that is the case.
The team didn't make it easy on themselves, either, though, with many mistakes in the pit lane causing Massa and Raikkonen problems. Who can forget Singapore, where we saw Massa sailing away down the pit lane with half the fuel hose trailing behind him? They'll want to improve standards in the pit lane as one of their first tasks for 2009.
Nevertheless, the record stands, and now Ferrari will be moving on. There is constant speculation that Alonso would like to join the team, and that there is already a contract in place for 2011. However, that is still a long way in the future, and the team must focus on 2009. The regulation changes do seem to be holding them up slightly. Ferrari personnel are not afraid to admit that they are somewhat behind in their KERS development, and may not even run it during the first few races of the season.
Either way, the chances are that Ferrari will still be at the top of the grid come Melbourne, and they will be yet another team to watch when it comes to the 2009 championships.