After an acrimonious 2007 season in which a Ferrari employee had been caught passing sensitive Ferrari documents to a McLaren employee after the McLaren Employees wife was dobbed in by a photocopy shop the 2008 season was relatively calm. The big story of 2008 being the on track battle between sophomore sensation Lewis Hamilton driving for McLaren and Ferrari’s de facto number two driver Felipe Massa who unexpectedly stepped up to the plate while his team mate reigning Champion Kimi Räikönnen experienced a post championship slump that saw him get bought out of a very expensive contract by the seasons end.
Designed by an international team that included Italians Mario Almondo and Aldo Costa, Frenchman Giles Simon and Greek Nicolas Tombazis the F2008 ran with a 2.4 litre 146 cui V8 motor that was restricted, by a newly mandated McLaren Electronic Control Unit (ECU), to a maximum of 19,000 revolutions per minute (rpm).
The curious front wing shape was partly a result of regulations demanding certain parts of the wing needing to be a minimum of 5 inches of the ground.
This was the last season for which grooved tyres which had been mandated since 1998 to keep cornering speeds in check had been mandated. At the time Ferrari and one or two other well funded teams were running multiple wind tunnels simultaneously 24/7 to seek out the tiniest of aerodynamic advantages.
Going into the Brazilian Grand Prix, last race of the season, Lewis Hamilton had five wins and led the championship with 94 points, while Felipe Massa had also scored 5 wins but only had 87 points due to his inferior placings, so there were multiple possibilities for Lewis to claim the championship but Felipe had to win with Hamilton finishing sixth or lower to claim the championship. Felipe started well by claiming his sixth pole position of the year, to Hamilton’s seven pole starts, and led the race which was delayed by rain and run in slippery conditions to cross the line first.
Hamilton meanwhile had started from third on the grid was involved in a battle for 4th position with the Ferrari powered Torro Rosso of Sebastion Vettel going into the final pitstops, during which the dry shod Toyota of Timo Glock overtook the pair of them. Lewis and Sebastian both opted for intermediate tyres. Vettel was the first to catch and pass Glock to reclaim 4th place for good. Hamilton meanwhile only managed to pass Glock who’s dry tyres were struggling for grip on the damp track going into the very last corner of the very last lap to claim the necessary fifth spot crossing the finish line 38.907 secs behind Felipe Lewis relived the Ferrari driver of the World Drivers Championship title. Ferrai did however have the consolation of winning the Constructors World Championship for a record 16th time.
Thanks for joining me on this “38.907 sec Champion” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !