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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.


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.


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?

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

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  1. Well Bridgestone has already stated that they definitely expect graining problems, they have advised the teams to use two stop strategies as a one stop strategy would be to hard on the tyres. So this could be interesting, perhaps some drivers will try three stop strategies.

    With the way the races has been going virtually anything can happen!

  2. schumi the greatest
    15th October 2008, 8:34

    difficult to choose between mclaren and ferrari, the lower the temperatures, the more it plays into mclaren and hamilton’s hands though.

    i think alot will depend on hamiltons approach to the weekend, if he does decide now to go more conservative, how much fuel does he put in the car for q3 knowing massa always goes light? or do mclaren put hekki light to get track position? or does hamilton go all out for pole to get track position, and look to finnish at worst 2nd to massa??

    should make for good viewing anyway!

    suppose the best result for the fia would be ferrari 1-2 with massa winning leaving it at 1 point going into the final race so whoever finnishes in front there takes the tittle

  3. I think your analysis is erroneous so long as it does not make an attempt to guess what the stewards will do – this title is about the stewards not racing.

  4. Becken, half the races have been done on hard tyres? :O
    I don’t think so..

    Plus; this year the tyres haven’t played as big as a role.. since there haven’t been any ‘normal’ races like so many of 2007.

    I guess Keith will post the correct stats of tyre usage soon..We can comment then

  5. Some of the comments people are attempting to post hoping for certain drivers to get injured are utterly abhorrent and will not be tolerated. They have been deleted.

  6. Yea that tire stat thing Becken is close to useless in the way of predicting whos race weekend it might be.

  7. I think Massa will win the next two, Hamilton may self-implode like last year. I think some people have been too harsh with Massa. I think that this has been his most consistent season yet and some of the “failures” were so clearly his team letting him down and nothing to do with his drive. Singapore, he did absolutely everything right until the hose incident which you can’t blame on him at all. His engine failure in Hungary, could that be blamed on him? Hard to say.. but probably not as Kimi’s engine has also failed so probably again a team failure rather than solely driver failure. And one race, Australia (?) the team failed to put enough petrol in his car so he ran out, again out of his control… On the other hand, Hamilton’s failures can be contributed to his driving style alone. His over aggressive driving style wins him many valuable points but when he fails, he fails, not the team. To their credit, the McClaren team have been very reliable apart from one very questionable tyre choice. Overall, while I think Ferrari will repeat last year and their driver will win the WDC in the final two races, I would actually like Kubica to win. He and the team have been the most consistent, and it would really open up the duopoly which seems to be developing this year

  8. Hmmm Let me guess….
    Ferrari wins this race one way or another, before or after the race!!

    Only one thing is more sure.
    I will not be watching.

  9. Do the Ferrari-predictors think they are sandbagging? The last time Ferrari were .7 down to Lewis in Q2 was Hockenheim and that did not turn out well for them. Maybe they are saving revs but given the performance of the Renaults and Toyotas they could find themselves looking at P5 or worse at the start if they don’t get it together. They could be behind Mark Webber and his 20 foot horsepower-free car with no horsepower. Not a pretty picture.

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