2008 European GP predictions

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen is my tip for victory at Valencia - who\'s yours?
Kimi Raikkonen is my tip for victory at Valencia - who's yours?

Yesterday I made a case for why I thought Robert Kubica would do well at the new Valencia street track.

But there are plenty of convincing reasons his McLaren and Ferrari rivals could find the Valencia circuit suits them well.

Here are my predictions for the top three in the European Grand Prix ?ǣ share your podium picks below…

We?ve read a lot about the Circuito Urbano Valencia: it?s fast for a street circuit, it?s going to be hard on brakes, it?s likely to be hot. But in the final reckoning, which team is going to make the most out of that combination?

In recent races we have seen how track temperature can strongly influence the outcome of a race. As the Hungaroring weekend progressed and got warmer, Ferrari fared better. But at the Hockenheimring it was unseasonably cool, and McLaren walked it.

Assuming Valencia is going to be hot, and with Bridgestone bringing the two softest tyres available to them, I expect Ferrari to set the pace.

Which Ferrari is at the front depends on whether Kimi Raikkonen has gotten to grips with the problems he?s had getting the most out of his tyres in qualifying. If he can qualify at the front and avoid the traffic problems that have plagued him of late, I wouldn?t bet against him to win.

Felipe Massa must be brimming full of confidence after his superb performance at the Hungaroring ?ǣ surely the best of his career ?ǣ despite being robbed of the win in the dying stages. Will this spur him on to new heights of performance at Valencia? As DoctorVee suggested recently Massa seems to do best at tracks he knows in stable conditions ?ǣ so perhaps Valencia will not be the best track for him.

The momentum is with McLaren at the moment as the silver team have won the last three races.

Martin Whitmarsh said he thought Lewis Hamilton would adapt well to the new challenge of Valencia, having seen how well the championship leader adapted to new circuits in his maiden season. Hamilton, like Kubica, seems to have an affinity for street circuits. At Montreal ?ǣ the circuit Valencia has been most frequently compared to ?ǣ he was leading comfortably until that infamous pit stop.

Heikki Kovalainen may have won last time out, but his race pace has been several tenths of a second off Hamilton?s lately.

But as ever the X-factor at street circuits is the safety car. With barriers so close to the track ?ǣ and some places were cranes cannot be used to recover stricken cars ?ǣ safety car periods are more likely at Valencia than at other circuits.

That could play into the hands of the Q2 and late Q1 brigade ?ǣ the drivers who?ll be starting the race with the most fuel, aiming to get through on one pit stop. At Hockenheim that strategy and a dose of fortune nearly made Nelson Piquet Jnr a race winner. If you?re a gambler Valencia could be the race to stake a wager on a Red Bull, Toyota or Renault to win.

Put all this together and you get a confusing picture. But I?m going to stick with my assumption that the hot weather will play into Ferrari?s hands, and Kubica will make life difficult for Hamilton:

1. Kimi Raikkonen
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Robert Kubica

Only three people correctly named Kovalainen as the winner at the Hungaroring: Toby, MartyP and Alianora la Canta. No-one correctly predicted the entire podium.

What?s your prediction for the top three in the European Grand Prix? Make your guesses for the Valencia podium below.

51 comments on “2008 European GP predictions”

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  1. 1] Raikkonen
    2] Kubica
    3] Trulli

  2. I also agree that the hot weather will play into Ferrari’s hands, but I’m going to give the edge to Hamilton and McLaren this weekend simply because the track configuration suits their car better than Ferrari’s. As has often been stated, Valencia appears closest to Montreal, and Whitmarsh has said that McLaren plans to run Hockenheim-level downforce for Valenica. (Which is certainly lower than Hungaroring-level downforce.) The McLaren is naturally better at generating downforce than is the Ferrari, so on a circuit where they will presumably run lower downforce settings to maximize straight-line speed (just as they did at Montreal), I would suspect McLaren thus of having an advantage and having more freedom to play with. Furthermore, I do think McLaren has the edge in engine power right now, and this looks like a circuit where it should show.

    My prediction for podium is:

    1) Hamilton
    2) Raikkonen
    3) Kubica

    One disagreement I will have with Keith is his street circuit argument. Yes, Hamilton and Kubica are terrific on streets, as is Raikkonen, and there’s a reason for that: they’re all elite talents, and the elites shine on the more difficult and bumpier street circuits. However, this is no ordinary street circuit, as it’s smooth and is configured more like Montreal and Hockenheim, so the street circuit argument really has less validity in this case.

  3. While agreeing with most of the above, surely Massa seems to be on a fairly major roll (especially when compared to his team-mate), so I’m going for a podium for him, along, perhaps, with an outsider. How about this?

    1. Hamilton
    2. Massa
    3. Coulthard

  4. Valencia looks like its going to spring a surprise, the combination of an unknown track with the very high possibility of Safety car periods might just shuffle the grid a bit.

    My predictions:
    1. Alonso (Home race, might just have lady luck by his side)
    2. Hiekki (confidence can do wonders)
    3. Kubica

  5. I think Hamilton will really savour the new track, both becuase it is new and because it is a semi-street circuit. If he treats it like he treated new circuits last year then great, but if he is in conservative championship mode then he may hand the advantage to Ferrari.

    Either way I feel Hamilton will have the edge, followed by Massa then Kimi.

    I am not convinced that BMW are in the right place to get many more podiums this year.

  6. 1. Massa
    2. Raikkonen
    3. Alonso

    Hammy to get over-enthusastic at some point and clip someone or something… and maybe make a stellar comeback to the points :-)

  7. 1. Kimi
    2. Heikki
    3. Alonso

  8. 1. Raikkonen (maybe more hoping than anything else)
    2. Hamilton (if not a Ferrari, then Hamilton)
    3. Massa

    Still not sure about BMW’s pace of late so I won’t predict a BMW on the podium…

  9. 1.Lewis
    I think Hamilton and Raikonen are really going to trive on this new circuit and show everybody their true class, thats’s if Raikkonen can sort his problems,And Alonso with this bieng a home race is really going to come out with guns blazing.
    By the way this is an awsome website nice to know iam not the only F1 Fanatic out there.(South Africa)

  10. 1. Hamilton
    2. Kimi
    3. Kovi
    4. Massa
    5. Kubica
    6. Alonso
    7. Webber
    8. Sutil rounding off the points :)

  11. 1)Hamilton

  12. kimi

  13. Kimi
    Alonso or Sutil :)

  14. My mind says:

    1: Lewis
    2: Kimi
    3: Kubica

    But my heart says:

    1: Webber [fingers crossed…] :)
    2: Lewis
    3: Vettel

    I really hope Webber gets a win this season (being a fellow countryman ;)) but for now I’ll say that either Hamilton or Raikkonen will win this race, with Kubica a close second or third.

  15. 1. vettel
    2. massa
    3. hamilton
    3. seb (french seb)

  16. 1. Hamilton
    2. Massa
    3. Kovi

  17. 1) massa
    2) hamilton
    3) kimi

    Qualifying session 2… sutil…

  18. 1. Ham
    2. Kub
    3. Rai

  19. 1) Massa
    2) Hamilton
    3) Kubica

  20. 1. Raikkonen
    2. Massa
    3. Hamilton

    But if anything goes wrong got them, then I think Vettel will make the podium because the Toro Rosso’s have been flying in practice so far.

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