2008 Bahrain GP preview: Ferrariland

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On paper, Bahrain should be an easy win for Ferrari. The team have usually been strong here, with victories in 2004 and 2007, and the slimmest of defeats in 2006 (to a seriously inspired Fernando Alonso).

Plus the F2008 seems to have a decisive edge in performance over the McLaren MP4-23s at the moment. Is there anything that can go wrong for the Italian team?

Plenty has been said about the team’s weakest link at the moment – Felipe Massa. But he turned up at this circuit last year having taken a battering for his performance at Malaysia, stuck the F2007 on pole position and won as he pleased. What he would give for a repeat performance this year.

But there’s no hiding from the fact that his car has gotten away from him in the last two races and Bahrain will be an especially tough circuit for the traction control-free cars.

It demands heavier braking than any circuit bar Montreal. Massa lost his car under braking here in 2006 even when he had the assistance of engine braking. And the sand that blows on the track will put an added premium on judicious delivery of Ferrari power – something he is clearly struggling with.

Luca di Montezemolo gave him a vote of confidence: “Felipe Massa is absolutely not under any scrutiny…” and a healthy dollop of extra pressure, “I expect a great race from Felipe in Bahrain, after his wonderful qualifying session in Malaysia.” Read between the lines and the message is clear.

Kimi Raikkonen arrives on a high after an important Sepang win where he shrugged off the disappointment of Melbourne in emphatic style. He was able to turn the engine revs down for almost half the race which will be useful as rivals Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will have new units at Bahrain – and Ferrari’s most obvious weakness so far has been engine problems.

Raikkonen hasn’t won here before (neither have McLaren) but he scorched from 22nd to third in 2006 in one of his most impressive drives. Ferrari also spent six days testing at the track over the winter – something no other team bar Toyota did.

Expect Raikkonen to lead the way, but I reckon the McLarens will be closer this weekend. The Mercedes-powered cars struggled in Sepang because overnight rain on Friday and Saturday washed away the build-up of rubber, leaving a ‘green’ surface on which MP4-23s kept graining their tyres. Rain is less of a problem in the desert, however…

Can Ferrari be beaten this weekend?

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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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10 comments on “2008 Bahrain GP preview: Ferrariland”

  1. Keith,
    I think below is an April Fool News.
    What do you say?

  2. No I think "Dan B. Fish" has got himself a scoop there :-) Particularly enjoyed the tuna sandwich bit!

  3. Varun.S.Murthy
    1st April 2008, 12:09

    Its definitely a hoax IMHO..
    a)Its not on any of the other F1 sites
    b)Somehow the words "at midnight on this date" in the first sentence seem out of place.
    c)CPR??Is it an indication of what it takes to bring Toro Rosso to life??

  4. So does everyone think Ferrari are going to win then?

  5. Last year Lewis followed Felipe all through the first stint and in some laps has done some pressure making fastest laps. I think Felipe will fail in his confidence in Bahrain and McLaren could fight in a strategy to beat Kimi using his two boys while Felipe will leave Kimi alone in field! I think McLaren is going to win then!

  6. So does everyone think Ferrari are going to win then? – For sure; and wouldn’t it be great for Massa to get second place with a BMW in third to keep McLaren off the podium?

  7. Nico Savidge
    1st April 2008, 19:13

    Lets not forget that everyone was saying Ferrari would dominate in Melbourne…

  8. No, Green Flag, it wouldn’t! ;)
    In all seriousness, I reckon Ferrari will be quite difficult to beat this weekend – as Keith said, they’ve got a good record round this place.
    I think the only thing that go wrong for them is … Massa lol! I’m wondering if he can possibly make it a hat trick of pretty soft DNF’s, but I suspect he’s learned his lesson!
    Obviously I’d like it to be Hamilton for the win, but you’ve gotta say Raikkonen looks like he’ll be pretty strong.

  9. I am thinking Raikkonen,followed by a BMW with a McLaren in third.

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