But not this year. The 2009 constructors’ championship trophy is not destined for Maranello or Woking. The two teams are fighting as hard as ever – but this time it’s for third place.
Although both are clearly having poor years by their lofty standards, the two are have had very different kinds of downfalls.
Ferrari have been generally off the pace, though not drastically so, wherever they’ve been. For McLaren in the first half of the season, aerodynamically critical tracks like Silverstone were a disaster area.
Lewis Hamilton has has brought a mixture of inspiration and desperation to the situation. He ran away with the wins at Hungary and Singapore, and wrung everything there was to get out of the MP4/24 at Suzuka – still the kind of track the car is weak at.
But the same never-say-die attitude cost him a podium finish on the final lap at Monza – and the less said about Melbourne the better.
The upshot of this has been the number three F60 hasn’t brought home a point since the Nurburgring. Without Massa’s injury, Ferrari would probably be home and dry in third place already.
Kimi Raikkonen has done a commendable job, racking up a string of podiums in Massa’s absence to single-handedly keep the team in the hunt.
The constructors’ championship may not command the same kind of attention the drivers’ title does, but there is pride at stake here, it’s the fight to be top KERS team, and there’s a considerable difference in prize money. So, which team will prevail?
Ferrari may be ahead but McLaren seem to have form on their side. This weekend’s race should suit their car well and Abu Dhabi looks like it could be much the same.
For Ferrari it is imperative that Giancarlo Fisichella is able to start picking up points as well as Raikkonen. But unless something goes wrong at McLaren it could be too little too late.
Toyota could pip both to third place. But as the Japanese team now faces an injury dilemma of its own and has had to put rookie Kamui Kobayashi in Timo Glock’s car, making their chances that bit slimmer.
Which team do you think will finish ahead? Or is third place in the constructors’ championship just too low to care about?