F1 07 review: Ferrari

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Jean Todt, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Istanbul, 2007On the face of it, 2007 was a golden season for Ferrari. Nine wins and both championships went to the team even though many expected them to struggle following the departure of Michael Schumacher.

But their triumph was not as emphatic as the raw figures suggest. The constructors’ championship was an inevitability after the expulsion of McLaren. Ferrari suffered unreliability and strategic mistakes the like of which were rare in the days of the Ross Brawn and Schumi show.

So what went wrong for Ferrari? And why did it all come right in the end?

F2007 – More than good enough

With Bridgestone becoming F1’s only tyre supplier and Ferrari being by far the most competitive team to have been using their product in recent years the Italian team were expected to do well in 2007.

This despite a raft of changes to the team’s organisation and the intriguing technical direction pursued by the new blood with the F2007. Their move towards a longer wheelbase indicated they knew something about this year’s tyres their rivals might not.

But over the course of the season the F2007 proved in many ways the opposite of McLaren’s MP4/22. On fast, flowing circuits (Catalunya, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps) the F2007 stretched its legs and left the McLarens behind. Around the tight turns of Monte-Carlo and Hungaroring it appeared more ungainly – and reacted poorly to kerbs.

Was this the direct consequence of a decision taken early in the car’s development? Or was it a compromise forced on it by the changes forced upon the car’s floor following the Australian Grand Prix?

Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Bahrain, 2007 | Ferrari MediaWhichever, the F2007’s Achilles’ Heel wasn’t just slow-speed corners – it was fragile, too. Massa’s qualifying was ruined in Melbourne, he failed to start at Silverstone, and he retired in Monza. Raikkonen twice dropped out of races with car trouble and many suspected his crash in practice at Monza was caused by damper failure and not the driver.

Unforced errors

The team compounded that with straight organisational mistakes. They somehow failed to refuel Massa in qualifying at the Hungaroring, leaving him 14th. And then there was the debacle at Fuji – how on earth did they manage not to receive the stewards’ instruction to use extreme wet-weather tyres when everyone else in the pit lane knew about it?

For the first time since 1995 it seemed both Ferrari drivers were free to race each other and that was most welcome indeed. Only in the final two races was Massa needed to support Raikkonen, and his lead at his home race at Brazil was duly sacrificed to that end, by switching him onto a less favourable strategy.

Afterwards Luca di Montezemolo gloated: ?????ǣThe difference between us and McLaren is that we’re a team and in the last race our drivers helped each other.?????? But would Massa really have pulled over had he been fighting for the championship? After all, he didn’t in Istanbul.

Raikkonen’s recovery drive

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2007 | Ferrari mediaFerrari showed exceptional spirit in bouncing back from their early season misfortunes. Raikkonen’s comeback will be remembered as one of the best ever seen in Formula 1.

Having struggled in the early part of the season he and the team overcame their setup problems and he was competitive almost everywhere in the second half of the year.

The post-Schumacher years indeed look bright for F1’s oldest and most historic team, which passed the 200 victories milestone in Shanghai in the companies’ 60th year.

But it’s hard to escape the feeling that they actually did a better job in 2006 than they did in 2007 – there were certainly fewer mistakes last year. The return of Brawn, to eradicate the little slips that have crept in this year, would surely be a welcome sight for the Tifosi.

Photos: Ferrari Media

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “F1 07 review: Ferrari”

  1. That last paragraph summed it up nicely. I love and Ferrari and all, but I can’t help but feel this year was as much about McLaren blowing it as it was Ferrari keeping themselves in the hunt in case any meltdown happened.

    A return for Ross Brawn would be brilliant news – but will it be at the price of Jean Todt? Nonetheless, expect Kimi to push harder in what many say will be a short-wheelbase car for 2008. Kimi will adapt better than Alonso, Massa, and maybe even Lewis, to a TC-less F1.

    Quick stat: Ferrari won 2 titles in the 1980s, and 1 in the 1990s. They have won 12 so far in the 2000s, and there’s still 2 years left in the decade! Astonishing stuff.

  2. It’s a strange contrast that at Monza Ferrari blamed Raikkonen for something that could have been a car problem, yet at McLaren they have jumped at every opportunity to take the blame for anything and everything Hamilton may have done wrong!

  3. Craig – I guess it’s a matter of team culture. Ferrari and McLaren have the same goal – winning titles – but have 2 completely different set of characteristics, with Ferrari’s seemingly slightly more effective than McLaren’s.

  4. Craig,

    I kind of agree with you about Ferrari not hessitating to point the finger at the drivers if the car crashes or suffers some defect. I remember a few years back, Barichello had just suffered a massive crash after the suspension broke, they had not even confirmed if he was ok, and already they were saying it was the way he drove over the kerbs that broke his suspension hence the crash.

    Well Mclaren have always defended their drivers. Apart from in Hungary, when Ron was the first to out Hamiltons responsibility for the qualifying incident.

  5. Worth pointing out that at Fuji it was McLaren that suggested that damage from the Vettel collision might have caused Alonso’s crash.

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