But their triumph was not as emphatic as the raw figures suggest. The constructors’ championship was an inevitability after the expulsion of McLaren. Ferrari suffered unreliability and strategic mistakes the like of which were rare in the days of the Ross Brawn and Schumi show.
So what went wrong for Ferrari? And why did it all come right in the end?
F2007 – More than good enough
With Bridgestone becoming F1′s only tyre supplier and Ferrari being by far the most competitive team to have been using their product in recent years the Italian team were expected to do well in 2007.
This despite a raft of changes to the team’s organisation and the intriguing technical direction pursued by the new blood with the F2007. Their move towards a longer wheelbase indicated they knew something about this year’s tyres their rivals might not.
But over the course of the season the F2007 proved in many ways the opposite of McLaren’s MP4/22. On fast, flowing circuits (Catalunya, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps) the F2007 stretched its legs and left the McLarens behind. Around the tight turns of Monte-Carlo and Hungaroring it appeared more ungainly – and reacted poorly to kerbs.
Was this the direct consequence of a decision taken early in the car’s development? Or was it a compromise forced on it by the changes forced upon the car’s floor following the Australian Grand Prix?
Whichever, the F2007′s Achilles’ Heel wasn’t just slow-speed corners – it was fragile, too. Massa’s qualifying was ruined in Melbourne, he failed to start at Silverstone, and he retired in Monza. Raikkonen twice dropped out of races with car trouble and many suspected his crash in practice at Monza was caused by damper failure and not the driver.
The team compounded that with straight organisational mistakes. They somehow failed to refuel Massa in qualifying at the Hungaroring, leaving him 14th. And then there was the debacle at Fuji – how on earth did they manage not to receive the stewards’ instruction to use extreme wet-weather tyres when everyone else in the pit lane knew about it?
For the first time since 1995 it seemed both Ferrari drivers were free to race each other and that was most welcome indeed. Only in the final two races was Massa needed to support Raikkonen, and his lead at his home race at Brazil was duly sacrificed to that end, by switching him onto a less favourable strategy.
Afterwards Luca di Montezemolo gloated: â€œThe difference between us and McLaren is that we’re a team and in the last race our drivers helped each other.â€ But would Massa really have pulled over had he been fighting for the championship? After all, he didn’t in Istanbul.
Raikkonen’s recovery drive
Having struggled in the early part of the season he and the team overcame their setup problems and he was competitive almost everywhere in the second half of the year.
But it’s hard to escape the feeling that they actually did a better job in 2006 than they did in 2007 – there were certainly fewer mistakes last year. The return of Brawn, to eradicate the little slips that have crept in this year, would surely be a welcome sight for the Tifosi.
Photos: Ferrari Media