Tied at the top: Who will be champion?

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It’s a three-way tie at the top of the F1 championship as the season passes its halfway point.

So which of the three drivers leading the F1 title race – Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen – will be leading come the season’s end?

Or will it be Robert Kubica, currently only two points adrift? Or someone else?

I still think the smart money is on Kimi Raikkonen to be champion. The Ferrari is, on balance, the faster car, and the team don’t make strategic blunders the likes of which we saw yesterday all that often.

Over the past three races Raikkonen has been right at the front but factors not entirely under his control have conspired again him: bad tyre choices (Silverstone), faulty exhausts (Magny-Cours) and kamikaze assaults from fellow championship rivals (Montreal).

On a normal day, in normal conditions, Raikkonen is still the man to beat.

Lewis Hamilton will be on a massive confidence high after yesterday’s result. If, from this point on, he cuts out the mistakes and drives like he did on Sunday every weekend, he will be a formidable championship opponent.

But even then, the McLaren-Mercedes MP4/23 is not as quick as a Ferrari F2008. Oh, and the constructors’ championship is Ferrari’s to lose. Which means Felipe Massa is at least as strong a championship contender as Hamilton.

Robert Kubica has done stunningly well to stay as close to the leaders this long, and until yesterday had barely put a wheel wrong all year. And you have to think that spinning out on shallow grooved tyres in heavy rain is among the more forgivable mistakes a driver can make.

Nonetheless BMW have increasingly looked off the pace of Ferrari and McLaren since Kubica’s breakthrough win at Montreal.

So, under normal conditions, I’d expect Raikkonen to hold onto his title. But we’ve had plenty of ‘abnormal’ races in the first half of the season, so why couldn’t that happen in the second half?

After all there are two unknown tracks yet to come, plus Fuji, which the teams have little to no experience of in dry conditions…

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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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40 comments on “Tied at the top: Who will be champion?”

  1. ahhhh its really hard to say who is going to win…

    i do agree with keith that due to some factors (kamikaze assaults from fellow championship rivals great explanation keith.. ha ha) kimi has not been able to pull off some good results. Concidering this, he would be quite eager to get in front of everybody in next races..plus he dont often make silly mistakes.. beside their wrong choice of tyres on silverstone..

    i am a bit iffy about massa.. he doesnt seems to do well on tracks and conditions he dont like. If he manages to get over it he will do well perhaps not win the cahampionship but win the constructors championship for farrari…

    as far as hamilton is concerned he will be willing to prove his critics wrong. but he tends to make quite a lot of silly mistakes under pressure and if he could avoid press as much as he can cuz he doesnt seems to handle it well (see post quali interview on itv he was trying to act COOL! which he was definately not). I would still think he might be able to nick the champonship altough i want kimi to win cuz lewis has quite a lot of time ahead of him and also cuz kimi worked his way up to being champion unlike lucky hamilton who got the top drive on the first season…but i do admire his talent not his personality.

    I really want kubica to come up with something cuz i like his humble attitude compared to hamilton..he had a bad luck in silverstone..car wasnt great on quli’s either had some sort of problem..but maybe bmw are now concentrating on 09 sooooo… cant say anything…

    p.s i was really happy for rubens and honda really really hope they can do something better next season. and these are just my personal comment, not trying to offend anyone

  2. Saying Kimi worked his way up unlike hamilton is a contradiction, Kimi raced for Pete Sauber in two races, fell asleep then woke up crashing a Mclaren.

    I’m going to the bookies this weekend, and placing a ten pound bet on Heidfield, ten on Kubica, and ten on BMW getting the championship.

  3. I think Hamilton has no chances, unless we see storms in the next races or amazing car improvements. His car doesn’t have the same pace as Ferrari, and he doesn’t manage pressure very well, as proved last season. So I wouldn’t put my money on him.
    Also, I don’t see the BMW winning a title at this stage.

    So, for me, it’s about Kimi or Massa. I think Massa is faster, but less consistent and a joke in wet conditions. As a brazilian, I would say sadly that if Kimi can keep his motivation and have better luck, he will be the champion.

  4. fell asleep then woke up crashing a Mclaren.
    nice comment…

  5. Before Silverstone, I thought Hamilton had no chance whatsoever as the Ferraris would stroll off into the distance – however yesterday has blown it all wide-open.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lewis lifting the trophy, but Kimi is still probably favourite in my mind.

    Massa has been much stronger this year than I expected and I would be pleasantly surprised if he managed to make it a 3-way fight right down to the wire.

    For me, Kimi should just about do it and unless Heikki gets a bit more luck and drives a bit better then Ferrari will win the constructors pretty convincingly.

  6. Massa might be the worst wet driver in the history of F1… Kimi will have it secured with 2 races to go.

    Kubica is the long shot, and people say “well its only half way through the season”, but had he not spun out yesterday he would probably be leading the championship. Who is to say that the next 9 races wont be as crazy as the first 9?

  7. re Massa’s wet weather performance from the mouth of anthony davidson.

    “He’s always the first to stand up in a drivers’ meeting and complain about what people like me are doing when we get lapped.

    “That’s what you get, mate.

    There’s a bit of blue flag action for you. You’re rubbish. You are useless at it.”

  8. Kimi is probably favourite but we talk about Kimi’s mistakes what about Lewis’ … Had he not hit Kimi in Canada he’d probably have won (heavier and faster than Raikkonen) … that screwed him for France … and also Malaysia was a shambles – McLaren botching a pitstop if I remember.

  9. Some of the main reasons that it is so close are the two rain races (lottery) and some strange events, like Hamilton crashing into Kimi and the exhaust breaking on his car. All of this has mostly kept Kimi from scoring points. I think it’ll come down to Kimi and Hamilton again and IF the rest of the season stays without incidents it should be Kimi who wins it again. But it is very good and nice to see that it is so close at the top, whatever the reasons are.

  10. Robert McKay
    7th July 2008, 16:49

    It’s a great question, it really is. This season is turning out a classic because each race has it’s own strand of drama with it. Very few of the races have run fully to type.

    If things eventually level off and calm down Kimi is the man, I agree there. What is amazing is that both Mclaren and Ferrari wobble perilously between glory and disaster each race. When it’s gone wrong for them both it’s really went wrong, such as Magny-Cours for Mclaren and Silverstone for Ferrari. They are both a bit like punch-drunk boxers, whichever one snaps out of it first and regains some consistency and reliability and most importantly good decision-making capabilities should go on to take the title, regardless of pace I feel.

    That’s why BMW are still there – much more consistent. I think they are slowly dropping away from the pace but if they keep the consistency they aren’t going to drop away from the top 2 in the points tables whilst Mclaren and Ferrari keep having total brain fade weekends.

  11. I like the way Sush thinks. That tenner on Heidfeld might just be the best investment you ever made, mate! ;)

    People keep saying that Hamilton makes mistakes under pressure – but has anyone been watching the Ferrari team? They make far more errors, sometimes even without pressure – and they are also the reason why Kimi won’t be champion this year. McLaren are quite good at fouling things up too and so we have to look at the third team. Hey, guess what, they don’t make mistakes and they have the most consistent driver and the best overtaker in the business working for them.

    The Sush ain’t so silly, is he? :D

  12. For me it’s Hamilton. Mclaren was on top in Silverstone even in dry sessions (with Kovalainen this time, who, in case of a dry race, would have won with Hamilton in second) showing a good improvement in their cars. True, Kimi/Ferrari is the best combination of driver/car but i would put my money on Hamilton. I must confess that i don’t like him due to his PR, like not admiting his mistakes, but like him or not the reality is that he is the fastest on rain by far, and on dry, at least faster than Massa and Kimi. If not, and this assuming Ferrari is the fastest car, why Hamilton can fight with them regularly?

  13. McKay is right. How in the world can you make a decision about who will win the championship when there have been so many unexpected mistakes. Now, if Kimi & Lewis (and Ferrari & McLaren) cleans up their acts, it’s probably going to be very close to the very end. If not, then you have to look at Clive’s favorite, BMW. All that said, I’m still not counting out Massa.

  14. Guys, I complete understand the brit excitement over Hamilton, but the way he lost last season (with a superior car, I would say), does not make him a candidate for me. Also, it’s really sad to see him pretending that nothing affects him, that he can come over mistakes, his fake cool persona. Lewis’ father after the shock loss in 2007 saying: “We’re so happy with the season, he achieved a lot!”. What a lie!
    I think that deep inside he is still a boy, scared with everything that is going on.
    But I may be wrong…

    As for Massa, he has the arrogance of Piquet Sr., without the fantastic driving though. I really want him to prove me wrong and win this title, but i don’t think he’ll do it.

  15. The only one who will win this season is Fred. He is the one most of the paddock is missing right now. There is a common feel that with the right car he would be leading this crazy-drivers champ with no opposition at all. He has earned his right to be driving a top car next year so far. IMHO.

  16. diseased rat
    7th July 2008, 17:40

    It’s got to be between Hamilton and Raikkonen. They both have what it takes on their day and are in machinery which can deliver. I’d like to think Kubica (or even Heidfeld) could compete but the car isn’t up to the task yet.

    I was surprised with just how bad Massa was on Sunday. It had to be more than him being simply awful in the wet, his car was not set up right after his practice crash then qualifying wheel nut issue. I suspect someone better in the wet would have coped with the cars problems somewhat more gracefully though. If he can get his mind right and the weather gives him dry races for the rest of the season then he is capable of being a contender as well. I wouldn’t want to put money on him though.

  17. Scott Joslin
    7th July 2008, 19:25

    Ooooh what a time to ask a question like this!

    I would tend to agree with Keith, the slight favorite will be Kimi, but I am interested to see if the Mclaren has actually made a step forward on the fast tracks, because in the dry at Silverstone, a circuit they were expected to dominate, they were slower than the Mclaren’s. Ok, so lets say Ferrari had an off Weekend and the next few tracks might favour the Ferrari, but the additions to the calender should suit the Mclaren as they are street tracks, so If lewis can keep close to Kimi over the next 3 races, I think we should be in for an amazingly close end to the season.

    After sunday, I am going write off Massa!

    Plus, listening to Lewis’s comments at the end of ITV’s highlights he said something I have never heard him say, “In the next race, I just want to get some points”

    Instead of saying I am definatly going all out to win and be a hero. Perhaps a sign he might be maturing?

    Sush – just give me your £30 mate, never going to happen :)

  18. The way points are allocated rewards consistency, so no one’s going to win WDC, but Kimi will come second.

  19. Why somebody is saying that Mclaren was fastest on sunday and even when it was dry?
    Take a look who did fastest lap in GP. Sure Mclaren has improved their car(or was this just bad weekend for ferrari).
    If Kimi would have same tires like Hamilton, the result could have been very different. Ok, that is just if and if…

  20. Kimi will win again. Lewis has had his allotment of wet races and Ferrari theirs of silly mistakes. Even in Silverstone, with the same tyres and exact same fule load, Kimi set fastest lap and Lewis did not. This is not to say that Lewis is not the best wet-weather driver, but overall Kimi remains the fastest of them all. If Ferrari cut out the foolishness, Kimi wins by a mile.

    As a side note, I hope that the Webber and Button discussions are now over for good. Button is useless (he is supposed to be good in rain and lost in grand fashion to the oldest driver in F1, who also took a podium place). And Webber is at best mediocre, and the top teams know it and they want nothing to do w/ him.

  21. As far as I’m concerned, Massa’s driving was no different from Kimmi’s in Monaco. Completely off the pace when necessary, the only difference being that Massa was off many more times. Kimi managed to lose the car several times himself and he was also on fresh intermediate tyres then. Hamilton did go off track but he never lost control of the car, even while on wet grass.

    The race for the championship is still wide open. Kimi has half a hand on it because the car he drives has the best all round performance of any other car on the grid. Hamilton is the driver who would have to work hardest, even much harder than Massa.

  22. I would say Kimi has the best chance but,I am not going to write off the BMW boys.They are consistant,I honestly think they have a shot at it.Just look at how steady they were Sunday,I was so proud to see Heidfeld making his way through and then holding coarse while everyone around him was spinning out,and off track.

    …and Massa performed just as expected,he is nothing without the red car…and when it rains he is just plain nothing.

    Hamilton is fast but,after watching all the mistakes so far (except Silverstone-what a drive!) I think it might be another season before we see him take the championship.

    My point ,I guess,is all the others are having technical problems,strategic foul ups and just plain bad luck….except BMW who are consistant and focused.

  23. Kimi got the fastest lap on Sunday and the past five races in a row.

    IF Ferrari can get their act together and the car doesn’t fall apart, then perhaps Kimi will win, but Lewis might take it if the Red team keep tripping over their own feet.

  24. I think Kimi will win because he usually finishes stronger than he starts. If he’s equal first after the weaker half of his season, then logically he should be better than equal first by season’s end.

  25. Well, if McLaren and Ferrari keep on alternating their brain fades on a rotating basis, then Kubica might just sneak through and win it.

    But if Ferrari manage to keep it together, then I think Kimi will be WDC again this year.

  26. OF the last 9 races, I would say 5 are Ferrari tracks and 4 are McLaren tracks (the 2 street tracks, Hungary and Fuji). A very rough estimate that might not mean a thing more than that the championship is wide open in every which way. The thing that might help Hamilton is of course the in-team struggle between Massa and Kimi, just like the whole Alonso-Hamilton rivalry partially helped Kimi to the title last year. Heikki seems to be lacking a good fight, would rather prefer Heidfeld in a McLaren car.

  27. Well, Mass IS driving like a joke in the wet, KIMI’s car and his luck is falling apart. However, Ferrari remain the team to beat, as is opined. Reliable as hell and faster than a speeding bullet(couldn’t resist :D ). If Ferrari, manage not to have too many of their brain-fade episodes, then either Massa/ Kimi stand to win the championship. Well, as long as there are no more wet races. Well i do like Massa, but he’s got some practice staring him in his face.

  28. Jonesracing82
    8th July 2008, 8:24

    thats the beauty of this season!
    half way and still no clue as to a likely champion!
    ‘watch this space
    Heidfeld is only 12pts down so if BMW can get back to where they were and nick can have a good 21nd half he and kubica could be a longshot!
    more likely it will b hamo or a ferrari driver!

  29. Scott Joslin
    8th July 2008, 11:19

    Juhhi – Kimi did have the same tyres as Lewis for 2/3rds of the race so I am not sure that the claim he did not have the same tyres as Lewis can be the whole reason.

    Just to clear up my previous comments, on Friday and Saturday, in the dry at Silverstone, the Ferrari was expected to be fastest – yet they were slower than the Mclaren’s, we will see in Germany what the real picture is I suppose.

  30. Last year, Hamilton was leading more comfortably (Lewis 70, Fernando 58, Kimi 52 if I get my numbers right) at this point but failed to achieve the championship. However, IF only two “disaster” races were “allowed” in the season, i’d rather have Montreal and Magny than Shanghai and Interlagos… Also, the “enemy within” is at Ferrari this season, Heikki is too far away to avoid being forced to a pit stop “strategy” to let Lewis win (like the one we saw at Interlagos last year…) It’s fair to say that at Silverstone, Lewis didn’t seem to feel that the team would order Heikki to let him pass…

  31. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    8th July 2008, 12:51

    im suprised how many people seem to think that kimi will walk it aslong as there are no wet races and ferrari stop cocking up. Kimi has won 2 races to massa’s 3, when massa is on it kimi doesnt get anywhere near him (nobody does) ive been dissapointed in him this year i though that now the pressure of becoming a champion was gone he would blow massa away, but he hasnt. kimi and massa will take points off eachother until it is mathmatically impossible for 1 to win the tittle. during this time lewis and kubica (who are 9/10 beating their team-mates will stay close. I think lewis has the best chance because of this. if he can win a couple more races maybe 2 or and get the kind of consistency we saw from him in the 1st half of last year he’ll win it. the problem ferrari have is, although they have the best car, neither driver is very good in the wet, and theyr both prone to having “off” days when they just dont look like they want to be there and perform nowhere near to the maximum potential.

    for kubica to win he will have to win another race and hope ferrari and mclaren keep messing up.

    i saw a comment earlier form i think Architrion sayin how good alonso has been this year. have i been watching different races to you??

    theres been a couple of opportunites for alonso to score big points in races eg monaco where hes messed up bein gway too aggressive. i think it may have something to do with the fact he knows he cant win the tittle o hes just gambling to try and win a race but ive been slightly dissapointed with him.

    my money is on lewis because kimi and massa will take points off eachother

  32. It will be a very cool final between Kubica,Kimi and Lewis!
    Massa is too unexperienced and easily fooled by his ego…see Malysia,Monaco and Silverstone.
    Ferrari will win the championship.Period.

  33. Ayrton Senna
    8th July 2008, 17:22

    -The race for the driver’s f1 crown will be between Kimi,Lewis and Robert…as Massa has no ability to neither control his car on wet (Monaco and Silverstone) nor on dry track (Sepang).
    -Ferrari will win the constructors crown,no doubt as it is the only team that has two wining drivers.The other team e.g. BMW and Mclaren have only one “world class” F1 driver and a second soap class driver.

  34. Didn’t Massa beat Raikkonen in the wet at Moanco? I think you’re being a bit harsh on Kovalainen as well.

    Also, I don’t believe you really are Ayrton Senna…

  35. The gladiator
    9th July 2008, 10:47

    -Unfortunately Mr. Keith,it must be stated that Ayrton Senna (or whoever he/she is) has mentioned two valid points,while you -as usual-tried to downplay his opinion with your subjective opinion.
    Yes and even if you do not like it (exactly like u do not like the results of the FIA vote in the Max Mosley case), Ferrari is currently the only F1 team which has 2 high caliber drivers fighting for the crown.McLaren and BMW have obviously a very good driver and an almost good-for-nothing driver!

    -Massa did some very fatal mistakes (Sepang,Monaco and Silverstone) which has cost his team and himself alot of very crucial and necessary championship points!
    How on earth can u spin on a dry track while you are not under pressure from a competitior (Sepang)?

    This is the big difference between him and the master Schumacher who led home his Brazilian team-mate, Rubens Barrichello at the US Grand Prix 2000 despite a spin five laps from the end of the race

    -And the Monaco slip was also unnecessary.Right?

  36. Occasionally people accuse me of the the crime of having opinions. Of course I have opinions. I make no attempt to disguise that. (And opinions are, by definition, subjective).

    As for, “Massa has no ability to neither control his car on wet,” that’s AS’s opinion, I respect it and I even agree with it to an extent – in fact I said as much earlier this year.

    But I don’t agree you can say he has “no ability” to control his car in the wet. Massa’s drive at Monaco this year wasn’t perfect but it was a sight better than Raikkonen’s – just ask Adrian Sutil. And Monaco is about the hardest place to drive in the wet.

    More opinions coming later by the way with the first part of the 2008 driver rankings later today…

  37. The gladiator
    9th July 2008, 11:23

    -Are u going to compare a racing incident on a wet track (Monaco Kimi-Adrian)at high speed with the 3 Massa spin/slip that took place under no visible pressure or?

  38. I only remember Massa going off once at Monaco, whereas I think Raikkonen went off twice before hitting Sutil.

  39. That is correct, Keith. Also, Michael Schumacher was under no pressure when he spun towards the end of the US Grand Prix in 2000. Lack of attention can afflict even the greatest drivers.

  40. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr
    9th July 2008, 13:13

    at end of the day gladiatior, this is keiths site, therfore he can write about what he wants if you dont like his views dont read it. i find this website very honest and in general keith is fair to every driver on the grid.

    yes massa was crap at silverstone, raikkonen was crap at monaco. you seem to be missing alot of facts in your argument to twist the truth the way you want it to be.

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