Shanghai: Ferrari’s stomping ground (2008 Chinese Grand Prix preview)

Rubens Barrichello won the first Chinese Grand Prix for Ferrari in 2004

Rubens Barrichello won the first Chinese Grand Prix for Ferrari in 2004

Ferrari has an enviable record at the home of the Chinese Grand Prix:

2004 winner: Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari
2005 winner: Fernando Alonso, Renault
2006 winner: Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2007 winner: Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari

On the face of it, Ferrari will be the team to beat this weekend, which is good news for Felipe Massa’s title bid. But favourable track conditions may help McLaren score their first Chinese Grand Prix win this weekend.

History

Rubens Barrichello ran away with the first F1 race at Shanghai in 2004, but team mate Michael Schumacher had a poor race after spinning off in qualifying.

Ferrari were in no position to challenge for victory in 2005 but Schumacher grabbed his final career victory by beating Alonso on a slippery track in 2006.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen took victory off Lewis Hamilton, who waited too long to switch from wet to dry weather tyres, and infamously skated into the world’s smallest gravel trap in the pit lane.

Tyres

Bridgestone are bringing their hardest tyres to the race this weekend: the hard (prime, no strip) and medium (option, with stripe) compounds.

Earlier in the year Ferrari were grumbling that the harder choice of compounds suited McLaren better: particularly at races where temperatures were on the cool side. At Hockenheim, on the harder tyres, Lewis Hamilton was the class of the field.

With mid-to-low 20C temperatures forecast this weekend McLaren will expect to be very competitive. And the outside chance of rain is the icing on the cake: two of Hamilton’s four wins this year came in rain-hit races.

The track

On paper, it’s hard to pick any aspect of the track that particularly suits either car. Track history may be on Ferrari’s side but the F2008 and MP4/23 have been very evenly matched in recent races.

It will come down to who gets the most out of their car on the day – and who stays out of trouble in the race.

As for their closest rivals, Fuji confirmed the impression that Renault has re-joined the top four: not close enough to rival Ferrari and McLaren on outright pace, but clearly giving BMW some problems. This is bad news for McLaren in particular, as Alonso has made it clear he will do what he can to help Massa’s title cause.

Which car do you think will be strongest in Shanghai? And will Alonso have a role to play in the title decider?

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29 comments on Shanghai: Ferrari’s stomping ground (2008 Chinese Grand Prix preview)

  1. Shahriar said on 14th October 2008, 15:14

    Now look what u did, keith…
    by mentioning it u have killed it…..
    Ferrari wont win now…. :( :((
    Just kidding…

    well last year was just bad luck for hamilton, he was it a fighting position… lets see abt dis year… fingers crossed…

  2. Its Hammer time said on 14th October 2008, 15:18

    Nando’s will not feature without trouble at the front…Hamilton will thunder off into the distance and win come Sunday. It may prove to be the best race of the year. It looks as if it is going to be dry. Massa will have to drive his socks off to stay in contention to take the title…

    What will be more interesting is whether KOV or RAI actually ‘show up’ to play the role they are employed for and play max points scorer. It is not about just Ham and Mas…Red and Silver need to be 1,2,3,4 this weekend for their respective claim to the constructors…any slip ups will allow Bobika & BMW to capitalise.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2008, 15:21

    Shahriar – Superstitions only work on the superstitious, and I’m not, so Ferrari are fine :-)

  4. You said in the article that “Bridgestone are bring their hardest tyres to the race this weekend: the hard (prime, no strip) and medium (option, with stripe) compounds.”

    I thought they had Super Hard as well? Did you mean these are the hardest tyres they have used this season or am I wrong on all accounts?

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2008, 15:31

    Matt – No, they have four compounds, super soft, soft, medium and hard. So they’re bringing the two hardest compounds they have.

  6. DaveH37 (@daveh37) said on 14th October 2008, 16:02

    Keith’s right, Ferrari will win this race but that’s because the Stewards want them to, nothing to do with anything else!

    DaveH37

  7. Ferrari are looking good for the last 2 races…but they have just the team that will let them down. They absolutely must win these races, preferably 1-2.

  8. Oliver said on 14th October 2008, 16:31

    I somehow think Ferrari no longer have any weakness in colder weather. Their problem is the discipline of their drivers, in maintaining the right pace on an out lap. This is a track Ferrari can easily win at.

  9. It is Kimi’s time. Massa and Lewis will keep falling apart, especially if Kimi is ahead…Lewis really doesn’t like that which leads to botched pass attempts/mistakes.

  10. F14EVA said on 14th October 2008, 16:43

    My money is on an Alonso hat-trick. LEWIS and MASSA seem to have lost the plot somewhat and I am sure that Lewis will be OVER cautious this weekend but I predict he will finish ahead of MASSA and go to Brazil with 6 point lead. Massa wins Brazil and Lewis comes 4th and Lewis wins the Championship by 1 point!!

  11. This is Massa’s race.

  12. Alex-Ctba said on 14th October 2008, 17:35

    I think Ferrari will do 1-2. Felipe is my best bet for win Chinese GP. So…WDC will be decided here..and…everybody knows who is the boss in Interlagos…Go Massa!!!! ( with a little help from the FIA’s stewards )

  13. Alonso’s comment about “helping” mASSa win the title is just his way of ******* gasoline on Ron Dennis’s fires. Can’t say I blame him either!

    I looked to Ferrari to dominate Fuji race and they let us down, Can’t say the same for Shanghai. I think Lewis will finally have a clean race and separate further from mASSa.

    The Joker is Kubica; only 12 pts from P1, I’d dearly love to see him pull the cat out of the hat and win it all.

  14. F1Fan said on 14th October 2008, 18:14

    I agree w/ Oliver and Sumedh:

    (a) Ferrari are no longer weak in cold temperatures – Massa was 4.5 tenths behind Lewis in Q3 at Fuji, but 2 laps heavier. So 3 of those 4.5 tenths were due to fuel load. Massa’s Q3 error must have been worth at least 2 tenths. So in reality Massa was at least even w/ Lewis and perhaps as much as a couple of tenths quicker than him in Q trim. And of course Ferrari are stronger in race trim, as they have been virtually all season. Oh, and Massa set the best overall Q time in Q2, 2 tenths faster than Lewis and a tenth faster than Kovalainen.

    (b) Shanghai is Massa’s race – because in the dry and w/ temps in the 20′s (C) McLaren does not have a tyre advantage any more, even in Q. Massa should be able to start from the front row and stay close enough to Lewis to win it. The question is what can Kimi do, as a 2-point gain won’t be enough for Massa to win the title in Brazil.

  15. f1fanatic said on 14th October 2008, 19:57

    i think nothing can be said now…the pessure in the drivers is too much…it will come down to who is the real MAN….

    i bet kimi might just grab pole…and possibly might help massa….same is for merc they will fuel kova light to try to get 1 and 2….

    dont count out alonso and kubica….

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