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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. Paul Sainsbury
    9th September 2008, 10:40

    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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  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

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