Ferrari to the fore at Monza? (2008 Italian Grand Prix preview)

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Felipe Massa will be looking for his third win in a row this weekend

At Valencia Ferrari and (Ferrari-engined) Toro Rosso dominated the speed traps.

Monza has a similar mix of long straights and slow corners, so will the Ferrari-powered cars be at the front once again?

And can McLaren or BMW do anything to stop the red cars running riot in front of their home crowd?

With the loss of the proper Hockenheimring Monza is perhaps the only track that calls for an ultra-low downforce setup, with the rear wings in particular trimmed out for maximum speed.

At Valencia the speed traps left no one in any doubt which engine was performing the best – Ferrari’s V8. So will Ferrari run away with the Italian Grand Prix?

Perhaps, but there are a few other things to consider. Monza’s extreme low-downforce demands are perhaps most similar to that used at Montreal. The performance of each team will come down to how well the their cars work in low-downforce configurations.

This year Bridgestone are bringing tyre compounds one stage harder than they used at Monza last year: hard and medium, rather than medium and soft. Ferrari has claimed this will benefit McLaren (who ran away with last year’s race).

There was some evidence of this being the case at Spa, where Bridgestone also brought harder tyres than last year. There wasn’t much to choose between the McLaren and Ferrari on the medium tyres, but in the beginning of the final stint of the race Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren took a few seconds out of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari while both were using hard tyres. But we are not talking about a huge difference in performance.

Temperature will certainly play an important role. The autumnal Italian weather can be expected to provide warm-to-hot conditions that will suit Ferrari. Only on odd occasions, such as in 2004, has it been cool, which would play into McLaren’s hands.

There wasn’t much to choose between McLaren and Ferrari during the F1 test at Monza at the end of last month. Heikki Kovalainen and Felipe Massa tested on the first two days and were within a tenth of a second of each other on both days. On the third day Hamilton was 0.4s faster than Raikkonen. You can review the times in full on this page on Vittorio’s website but it’s important not to read too much into testing times – Nico Rosberg was half a second faster than Kovalainen on the second day.

Reliability has been a problem for Ferrari. Massa lost a certain win at the Hungaroring with a con rod failure, a repeat of which eliminated Raikkonen at Valencia. Massa’s unit is also being inspected the by FIA in accordance with their ‘random check’ rules. Lewis Hamilton had his engine inspected in similar circumstances earlier this year.

Ferrari seem likely to have the upper hand, but McLaren should be close enough to get in among them. We’ll follow their progress as usual in the practice, qualifying and race live blogs here at F1 Fanatic.

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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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48 comments on “Ferrari to the fore at Monza? (2008 Italian Grand Prix preview)”

  1. I suspect that ferrari may indeed be a little quicker at Monza. But I guess it is irrelevant anyway as Lewis is not allowed to race them.

  2. Mclaren 1-2. number 1. will be 30seconds on ferrari and ferrari win because Mvlaren get stop-go and another drive through penalty because of the humuliation Ferrari will have in Monza

  3. Keith,
    Are you sure that Massa will have to use the same engine as he did in Spa..
    The one he used in Hungary he had a fresh one in Valencia,which he used in spa too..
    So doesnt it mean that hell get a new one in Monza..let me know if im missing anything.

  4. Varun – yeah you’re right actually, I’ll take that bit out.

  5. Massa in Monza will be with a new engine. When the engine blow up in Hungary he used a new one in Valencia and Spa, now Monza is a brand new engine… What about Hamilton and Raikonnen? I know that RAI had a new one in Spa, but what about Monza? As he crashed is he allowed to have a new engine?

  6. Ferrari will have the advantage at Monza – these days the advantage is called the FIA, which Ferrari have in spades

    Still not happy Jan.

  7. Maybe the FIA will find that Ferrari engine is under powered from the homologated version and allow them to make a modification to improve it , add another 50hp or so ? Just joking …. one thing I cannot understand is why the big difference between the way McLaren cars behave with the tyres compared to Ferrari , yet the two cars , as we have seen over a race distance at Spa , are almost identical in performance terms. . When I glance at the McLaren , it always seems to have more camber angle (esp. Lewis’) is that the reason , and also why they chew up tyres quicker . Maybe there is a technical expert out there who reads this and can offer a brief explanation.

  8. I don’t know that much about mythology, but I think that, after the Spa farce, if there IS a racing god, rain will be falling over Monza’s tarmac all over the weekend

  9. well ferrari are running more cooling because they are still worried about their engines – which means more drag – which is why they were slower in a straight line in spa and probably will be slower in a straight line in monza as well.

    i suspect lewis will win monza

  10. I also think the Ferrari engines are a bit suspect at the moment. That could give Hamilton the edge and he may win at Monza.

  11. Stefano Domenicali was asked about the high of the kerbs and this could be a pro McLaren factor, as we saw at Canada. Stefano has said too that “this year at Monza we´re not expecting high temperatures…”

    So, he is right:

    I hope the Italians did not change the kerbs, because we all know that this was the key factor on McLaren´s win last year….

  12. FAN!

    It dosen’t matter that he crashed because the engine can be traken out and put in to a nother car, but his car was not badly damaged

  13. Monza is ferrari’s backyard and no team likes to lose at home. also they did pretty well at testing. the engines were performing they look good to win..specially felipe.

  14. I for one will be hoping it rains on ferrari’s parade(cant be a race the fia have settled that) – so any other race driver wins bar massa and haikonnen – and that means even a bar india or red bull – the whole F1 thing was once described as a circus – guess who are made to be the clowns? – every one of the race followers who expect too see a fair fight to the finish at each event – sorry just scunnered with the lot of them

  15. sorry I meant raikonnen there

  16. i guess my comments were bad and not welcome so they deleted them. it’s ok. Viva Mclaren!!! woooohoooooo!

  17. CD – your last comment was deleted because insults are not allowed:

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    If you want to complain about your comment you can contact me directly but please keep comments on this post on-topic:

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  18. I think the shorter wheelbase of Mclaren will have the edge. Everyone thinks Ferrari engines have a good 25bhp on the rest, and Valencia may have been a track that suited Ferrari engines, but bear in mind the same speculation came out with McLaren-Mercedes engines only a few races prior.

    It was a convincing 1-2 for McLaren last year, I’m pretty sure a McLaren will win it again this year as I don’t think much has changed either way.

    Raikonnen, if anything, will be even less interested in playing 2nd fiddle, but I hope Massa will take to the fight. I have a bad feeling at least one of the Ferrari engines, in the works team, will blow.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  19. The difference between Ferrari and Hamilton this year simply has been down to four factors: 1. weather/temperature 2. bridgestone’s choice of tires 3. high speed corners (Massa strength) 4. Ferrari reliability.

    1. Monza will be cool. Advantage McLaren
    2. Bridgestone is bringing even harder tires than last year. Advantage McLaren
    3. Only one real high speed corner. Advantage McLaren.
    4. Ferrari reliability newly suspect, engine stressing track. Advantage McLaren.

    And if it rains, we know what will happen.

  20. “And if it rains, we know what will happen.”

    Advantage Ferrari? :p

  21. “It was a convincing 1-2 for McLaren last year, I’m pretty sure a McLaren will win it again this year as I don’t think much has changed either way”

    It has Loki. McLaren had the brilliant Alonso, this time they have Heikki who isn’t quite in the same league. I don’t think he can hold off the Ferraris. Given the way Kimi drove in Spa, I expect he’s going to be really motivated again.

    So actually I expect a fight between Lewis and Kimi.

    And its going to rain.

    God help us all.

  22. “It has Loki. McLaren had the brilliant Alonso, this time they have Heikki who isn’t quite in the same league. I don’t think he can hold off the Ferraris.”

    Yes, that’s why I said A McLaren will win it. Not both. But who knows.

  23. Loki: Sorry my coffee hasn’t taken effect yet :)

  24. I think that Massa will win and that Kubica will be a surprise second. Third? Who knows. I think that Lewis will be so very determined to win that he must push things too far & perhaps even DNF. I don’t think he will have had enough time to calmed down fully. He will be feeling, “I’ll show them, I’ll show them”.

    I think that Ferrari will concentrate a good deal of their energy (given that fact it is only a week between races) on Massa and just hope Kimi gets in the points for the constructors.

    But as others have said, rain (especially in the last 5 laps) could make for another topsy turvy race. That is one thing that has really worked in McClaren favour is the weather. They have either had weather psychics on their team or just more luck. Ferrari have not had enough weather savvy this year with their tyre changes

  25. Actually I think Hamilton will take the Spa decision just fine, he had a sharp enough learning curve about F1/FIA last year.

    Massa was oddly downbeat in Spa while Kimi was rampant. I don’t think KR will give up the chase for the WDC (given he won from far back in 2007) whether it’s realistic or not, so I’m expecting him to compete strongly this time in qualification. It’s really his last chance though. This said, low temperatures and/or rain and, on form, Lewis should win.

  26. Angry (albeit, a bit less now)
    9th September 2008, 16:17

    > qazuhb

    Rain?! Sweet, I’m off down the bookies and sticking my house on Hamilton to win and everything else on the Ferrari’s spinning off into retirement ;)

    (quickly runs outside for a prayer to the rain gods)

  27. I think Massa will win Kimi second.

    All other drivers will be DQed for not being a Ferrari

  28. dmw you missed point 5

    5. FIA run the sport – Advantage Ferrari

  29. The comments that are just about Hamilton’s penalty have been moved here: Seven reasons why so many F1 fans are furious about Hamilton’s penalty

  30. Keith, sorry…

    …But “Our” petition is in the Grand Prix dot com:

    (You can delete this comment!)

  31. Angry (albeit, a bit less now)

    i think it was hamilton that spun twice in spa not massa. please refresh your memory.

  32. Rumour has it, that the Mclarens will be painted red at Monza with a picture of a prancing donkey placed on the sidepods…. It’ll clearly work as it’s already been proved that the race steward are incompetent nincompoops.

  33. Monza will properly again belong to Mclaren this year. Even Stefano has already hinted as much. The hard tyres are just to difficult to heat for the Ferrari’s, and Mclaren still has an advantage on this type of circuits with their superior mechanical grip.

  34. Angry (albeit, a bit less now)
    9th September 2008, 17:31

    > varun

    that’s because Massa was tiptoe’ing around the last lap, trying to hold onto his position, whilst Hamilton had to give it some beans…

    Besides, remember Silverstone? ;) I think we know who’s best in the wet.

  35. Ditto Angry, Massa was not putting any guts into the race. If Lewis would have “used the brakes” on the wet track instead of the chicane (as many have suggested), he would have probably done another Montreal, and would surely had been mocked at AND penalised with a further ten grid places at Monza

  36. Angry (albeit, a bit less now)
    9th September 2008, 18:03

    Regardless of the whole love/hate Hamilton/Ferrari thing, let’s just hope they manage to salvage some credibility this weekend and we see a good race.

    Either way you look at it, even die-hard tifosi, Spa was tainted one way or another. I’m betting many of you didn’t want to see Massa getting the points for 1st without working for it…

    Bring on Monza.

  37. I Think Massa will win and I hope Ferrari continue to make LH look like a rookie…very hasty driver!
    Go Felipe!!!

  38. @Angry (albeit, a bit less now)

    hamilton also spun in the second or third lap also when kimi overtook him.

  39. Looks like rain in Monza. Oh oh. After Spa its crystal clear that the Ferrari is rubbish in the rain. I love to mock the little guy, but it puts Massa’s situation at Silverstone in more perspective.

    I suspect that Ferrari has chosen a suspension design to maximize ride height and pitch stability, great for fast corners, but death in slow corners and the rain. And the long wheelbase has the obvious aero-plus and mechanical-minus. And I suspect its power advantage is coming from a steeper torque curve. These are not things it can easily fix on a race weekend, or the remainder of the year. The next and last five races have either seen rain in the last two years or is at night. Not a good picture for the scudiera.

  40. The red cars and the McMercs will battle each other off the the track and BMW will take the first two places on podium with Alonso holding up the third place trophy…..the race of the season!

    Pleeeeease rain!!

  41. What are the odds of a Torro Rosso on the podium??

    Don’t laugh. They were the fourth fastest cars at Spa and Monza rewards grunt. Maybe I should check the odds with the bookies!

  42. “Actually I think Hamilton will take the Spa decision just fine, he had a sharp enough learning curve about F1/FIA last year.”

    David have you been watching same races than me in last season?

    yes there was some strange FIA decisons last season which let Hamilton go without penalty…excatly 3 times.

    If you mean that leaning curve then we been watching same races.

    And btw. why nobody is not saying anything about bridgestone favorites to McLaren? They bring harder tires to races knowing that they do not work well for Ferrari? Why nobody complain about that?

    Sorry…but what i try to say that its 2 way highway and both teams McLaren and Ferrari get favorites from FIA and from Bridgestone sometimes.

  43. Snoopy, I could answer you but… rehash the 2007 season again, no it’s not worth it! I know I mentioned it, but really, last Sunday was enough. Let’s agree Hamilton knows it’s not always about what happens on the track.

  44. Monza has more than just one high-speed corner…

    The Lesmos, Parabolica, and the chicane that connect the two after the bridge are all medium-to-high speed. Not to mention Curva Grande, but it’s flat as it is.

  45. @Paul.

    Please do not remind me of Monza’s chicanes, I don’t want to see or hear anymore about chicanes. Seriously though, the Ferrari pretty much always goes well at Monza, discounting last year ofcourse, as its their spiritual home, they have to perform.
    It all comes to, as usual, to the setups on the cars and driver errors. I think we all agree that Raikkonen’s position on the grid last week at Spa was not down to lack of performance, but down to mistakes on Raikkonen’s qualifying lap. His speed in the race was indeed very impressive, at a circuit not too far removed from Monza.
    As for mental strength, I agree with earlier posts that Hamilton and McLaren will not brood too long on their misfortune at Spa. The incentive will be revenge, and there is not better place for that than Monza, infront of their adoring Tifosi. So I will not be surprised if this race is every bit as exciting, and controversial as the one in Spa.
    I will be very interested in Raikkonen’s behaviour following what can only be described as a ‘disastrous’ race in Belgium, and how he bounces back from it. Its all or bust for Kimi now, and I would not count against a sequal to those last five laps in Belgium. Minus the after race ******** naturally!

  46. Lewis & Kimi wil be using the same engine that they used at Spa.

    Whereas, Massa will get a new one for Monza.

    How much do you think it will affect the race performance?

    Especially since Monza is an ‘engine circuit’?

  47. Ferrari will win both WDC and WCC! with the help of FIA. everybody happy.

  48. To fellow Hamilton fans, i would stop crowing about Spa like our protests are going to be listened to, because they won’t. The FIA is not a fair and open democracy. Life isn’t fair. Instead, force yourself NOT to boycott this weekend and watch Hamilton go like a slippery weasel and blow the ma(FIA) and Fiat into the weeds. My podium is Ham/Rai/Hei…you heard it here first

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