The F1 Fanatic verdict is in: Ferrari are the top team heading into 2009

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Felipe Massa to begin 2009 as he ended 2008 - with a win?

Last week I invited you to rank the F1 teams to see who everyone thought would be fighting for victory in the Australian Grand Prix next weekend.

Ferrari were the team that came out on top but everyone seems puzzled over just how quick McLaren are. Here’s the results in full.

1. Ferrari (1.75)
2. BMW (2.25)
3. Brawn GP (3.37)
4. Toyota (4.57)
5. McLaren (5.72)
6. Red Bull (5.79)
7. Renault (6.06)
8. Williams (7.02)
9. Toro Rosso (8.82)
10. Force India (9.70)

(average ranking in brackets)

No-one ranked Ferrari or Brawn GP lower than sixth, and no-one put Force India in the top five. Inevitably McLaren were the team that split the voting most.

Williams and Renault came out towards the bottom but in the days since the poll began they showed some improved form in the final test at Jerez. as this a genuine indication of improved performance – or were they just flattered by the absence of the other teams?

We’ll get our first definitive answers in one week’s time when the first practice for the Australian Grand Prix begins.

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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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47 comments on “The F1 Fanatic verdict is in: Ferrari are the top team heading into 2009”

  1. Think that now when Mclaren had obviously raised their game it will look a little diffrent.

  2. It’s shaping up to be a very interesting season opener for sure (oops, that phrase. We haven’t heard it in awhile ;) )

    I think McLaren will still be at the pointy end of the pack come next sunday. But it will be interesting to see how things do pan out. I for one, would love nothing more than a surprise upset like BrawnGP winning the race. Vive la difference !

  3. Could Ferrari walk the season? Massa WDC by half way, making a mockery of the new points system?
    Or do we have it wrong, as pre season testing is never a guarantee.
    Will Brawn be fast and reliable giving Button an unlikely looking chance at the title?
    I have so many scenarios that seem plausible.

  4. The thing about Mclaren is people just went on the test form at Barca and then the press release. It just makes sense that they are one of the strongest car development teams on the track, and that inevitably means even if they are not top dog they will be near the top.

    The field are just too close to call, I think people put Williams and Renault near the bottom because you have to have someone there, everyone can’t be 1st.

  5. Brawn GP probably #1 and i think Williams a bit higher up the list.
    1. Brawn
    2. Ferrari
    3. Toyota
    4. BMW
    5. Williams
    6. Renault
    7. RB
    8. Toro
    9. FI

    1. So McLaren don’t even get a look-in on your list?

  6. Great blog btw; keep it up!

  7. Norbert Haug has just said that Lewis Hamilton hasn’t a chance of retaining his title this year as the McLaren is in the bottom 3rd of the grid.

    My enjoyment this year will to see how well he can do with a dog of a car. Oh well, he’s still a brilliant driver!!!

  8. Actually, the new rules are in Mclaren’s favour.
    If they blow the early season and come good in the second half the points deficit is immaterial.

    Especially if the wins are spread out a bit early on.

    Particularly if Massa & Raikkonen split the
    Ferrari wins, and Button & Barichello split the Brawny

    Hamiltons (so far) margin over Heikki could be important *if* there is a period when Mclaren get the upper hand
    and bang out race wins. Not that I think this would be a *fair* outcome.

    1. Lewis is obviously commenting not from the perspective of his own fortunes, but of the fortunes of F1 and the fans. Anyway, according to Norbert Haug, Lewis hasn’t a chance of winning this year because of the state of the car. They will never improve enough by the latter half of the year with no in-season testing.

      This sport is being ruined by the gruesome twosome.

    2. Oops I was commenting on the wrong subject.

    3. Good point Peter. I think what we may end up with is taem orders all round, where one driver goes for wins, with his team mate palying the supporting role quite early in the season!

  9. Testing really does look astonishingly close this year – which is especially remarkable given that the new regulations provided lots of potential for getting things wrong, which is what appears to have happened to McLaren.

    We won’t really get much of an answer from free practice at Melbourne – qualifying will be a better indication, but the Albert Park track has thrown up odd results before, partly due to its non-permanent status. Cars that have set fast times at Barcelona or Jerez may not be ideally suited to a street track that is only used once a year.

  10. I ranked them exactly like the verdict, except for BMW, and Brawn Gp, which i put the other way round! yey me :)

  11. Massa this Massa that, Kimi is still the better driver in that team, and if anyone in red is going to win 2009 it’ll be him.

    1. Definately. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t rate Massa as a great driver.

  12. Renault and Mclaren are going to do a lot better than the test times indicate. I think that Mclaren have been testing parts for tracks deep into the season while all the others whizz around on setups for the current track. Same for Renault, to an extent. I doubt very much that the Brawn form in testing will translate into podia, much as I’d like to see it. Of the Ferrari drivers, I feel that Kimi has something to prove and an oversteery car is what he relishes. If he still struggles in qualifying, he might now be able to make up the deficit and even pass his team mate! Massa did better last year, but Kimi had a terrible year! The Ferrari has been quite reliable in testing, but I fear that they are going to suffer from engine troubles again. BMW should get a few podia, even some wins and I expect Nick H to do better with more front grip available.

    In the end, the team that masters KERS will win. Williams has a totally different KERS system and if it works out, they might be the dark horse of the season! A few quid on Nico Rosberg now might be a few quid well spent!

  13. I wonder what people base this on though. Did Ferrari really impress during the tests? I only saw BMW, Toyota and Brawn “dominating” the tests (and early on RBR, but they were quickly overtaken when the other teams rolled out their updates).

    I have to admit I read the question wrong and ranked for the season outcome. Over the whole season I would rate McLaren and Ferrari higher since they have shown the ability to develop cars. For the first race only I wouldn’t be so sure of either teams success.

    1. How are Mclaren and Ferrari going to develop cars over the whole season when there is no testing allowed?

    2. There are no seperate test sessions allowed no. That doesn’t mean no testing at all. They can still test parts on the cars on fridays and they can also “test” in windtunnels, simulators etcetera.

      Did you miss the news that McLaren is keeping both test drivers simply because there is still so much testing to be done?

  14. Wonderful thing the English language-the plural of podium now apparently being podia! Whats the plural of KERS? Anyone got a collective noun for FIA officials? A “squabble” maybe. Or similarly, a collective noun for the new FIA rules? A “fudge” perhaps?

    1. Surely a group of FIA officials must be a “conivance!!”

    2. @ Martin Bell:
      Singular: KERS
      Plural: KERFUFFLE, :P
      You were so close :D

      Yeah, by the by, there was so much of a hoopla over reducing tech involved in the sport, yet what we have is drivers depending on technology for wins. Let me say this, a dog of a car, will remain a dog of a car. I can hear some mutter, “but no there aren’t any driving aids”. Well, but that hasn’t improved the situation much. Teams with best adaptation of technology, will win, and so has it always been. Think why Ferrari has been on top pretty much every year since the year 1998. Before you say anything, let me add that yes, they didn’t win championships in some of those years, but were consistently winning races, season over season. Just think!

      I can’t ramble on enough about how rule-makers need to get their collective heads out of their collective derriere’s and sort F1 for once. All they have done so far, is that they have slowed the cars. Nothing much else has changed. Everybody said, this is in better interests of sport. Winning teams are still winning and that is for a reason and wouldn’t change. Oh yeah, about other teams from mid/back end of last year doing well, consider the following: “best adaptation of technology”, before you flame me.

      Usual, can’t wait for the season to start. :)

    3. Podium is a latin word. The plural is indeed podia.

  15. I hope we don’t see a one way, one driver championship, but if the rumours are to be believed, then Felipe Massa must be rubbing his hands together right now.

  16. Alastair – There is loads of development that goes on at the factory. They will be able to run new parts on the friday practice.

    The Limit – Which rumour are you talking about?

    1. I thought I heard somewhere where they can still do strait line testing ie. airfield up/down. Also windtunnel and of course simulator, McLaren have a very good simulator I read.

      I like the idea that McLaren have been testing parts for deep into the season. A few people will be shocked if Hamilton put it on pole in Oz!

  17. I think so. Ferrari have World Champion Kimi, although I still believe he was more luck than good in 07, a great driver, Massa, despite his erratic style, and a front row car, if we’re to believe the tests, and more importantly they have uncle Bernie ready to bend a rule here or handout a dodgy penalty there. He ha made it clear that he favours Massa for 09!


  18. Keith, have you seen the press release from FOTA?

    Sounds like they are not taking this decision lying down.

  19. I’m going to the TAB tomorrow to put $100 on McLaren to win each title… if they pull it off, I’m loaded ;)

    1. Already been at the bookies, put a load on Alonso to take the WDC honours and Ferrari to take the WCC honours!

  20. I would love to see one team expose the new medals system as flawed and unfair, something like Button taking the crown with 4 wins and 13 DNFs to Massa’s 3 wins and 13 podiums.

  21. @ Chris
    Yeah, I’d like that too.
    I imagine Hamilton or Alonso quitting races when it’s sure they won’t win them.
    In the last couple of races we might have USGP 2005 all over again.

    We’ve been having plenty of discussions recently about how much of a win should the second place be worth; the old 60%, the 80% that it’s been lately, or sth in the middle.
    But now – a second place is worth nothing. Zero. Nada. Nichts. Nic. Zilch.

    1. Perhaps quitting races early on when it’s clear they can’t win, just to conserve the engine for the next race

  22. I think there are 8 pretty solid teams who at this stage could be seen as race winners during the season but you wouldn’t put toro rosso and force india too far off the pace given a good setup

  23. OK. That’s a list… but i think it’s more of a wish list for some folks around that just can see Lewis on top and only see italian red horses… This is all talk… in a week we’ll see it, live from Australia!

    that’s my 2 cents.

  24. Pete_Firestarter
    20th March 2009, 18:12

    F1Fanatics have got this survey spot on!

    Maclaren CFD Engineers and Airodymicists have shot us in the foot! If Benny has his way, McClaren can afford to move those departments abroad and pay a £1Million pounds for their services! And who suffers? Us British well learned engineers!! Because of these highly paid underskilled CFD and Aero Engineers! I cannot believe how they got it wrong! I hope it is a tiny misconfig somewhere… Probably hiding behid someone i guess. Seen it loads of times,

    Back to the list, that will not show show a big deviation come Melbourne!

  25. Should be an interesting start to the year. We wait with baited breath. I actually find the uncertainly of how far each team has come to be fantastically exciting.

    I really hope Brawn GP are as fast as they appear to be, it would be brilliant if they kicked ass this season!!

  26. To Keith, I’ve never felt so in touch with the sport I love. Many thanks for literally making the build up to the coming season as exciting as the season itself!
    I get the feeling you’ll be all humble and say the blog is a product of all that contribute.
    But it’s your blog and it’s brilliant! Cheers!

    1. Thanks very much pSynrg – I must say as much as I enjoy the off-season intrigue I’ll be very happy when we’ve actually got some racing to talk about!

  27. Hmmm, can’t say I would agree with that, interesting to see what the masses think though; here is how I would have split it-
    1. Ferrari
    2. Renault
    3. Brawn gp
    4. BMW
    5. Mclaren
    6. Red Bull
    7. Toyota
    8. Williams
    9. Torro Rosso
    10. Force india

    I am very interested to see where mclaren will be starting in Australia because they have been slow but have also been showing signs of improvement. As much as I dislike them you cannot expect a top running team with so much money and resources not to get the problem solved, then again having two relatively new drivers must not help.

  28. Less than a week, and all will be revealed.

    I am hoping for a 3 or even 4 horse season this year. I’ll even be happy if one of those is prancing so long as they are not the only one.

  29. Maybe some people will revise their rankings when it becomes clear who has been running illegal diffusers. As I’ve pointed out, teams are not necessarily even running legal cars in testing, so testing times need to go down with a cup of salt. McLaren are likely developing parts to suit the current and potential new rules interpretations. If the Brawn/Williams/Toyota diffuser proves legal, you will see McLaren/Ferrari/RedBull slap on one like it and rankings will look different quickly.

  30. Did all the teams showed what they really have in the tests? I think Kimi is the man to beat. But don’t forget about the Brawn’s guys. They’re very strong. And Alonso is very hungry so is Lewis. Here’s my rating:

    1. Ferrari
    2. Renault
    3. Brawn gp
    4. McLaren
    5. BMW Sauber
    6. Toyota
    7. Red Bull
    8. Williams
    9. Toro Rosso
    10. Force india

  31. Toby Thwaites 93
    24th March 2009, 19:37

    You rate McLaren over BMW this year? No way, even if McLaren didnt have their testing problems and a lack of speed with their car i would of still rated them below BMW.
    And i think the verdict is right with Renault (7th) possible not that low, but at least not 3rd of 2nd as some of you have posted :/

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