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GP Week : Issue 36
The season th T 32 IME flies when you’re having fun, and how quickly the 2008 F1 season has passed us by. This truly was a season to put F1 back on the map. It had everything; new winners, new contenders, political intrigue, scandal, and a championship that wasn’t decided until the last corner of the season. If it had been a Hollywood script, nobody would have bought it. It would have been deemed too insane, too far outside the realms of possibility for people to believe it. And yet it happened. We lived through it. And a hell of a rollercoaster it was. The 2008 season will be long remembered as one of the most competitive and hard fought in Formula 1 history. With technical regulations having reached a relative level of parity over recent years, standard ECUs fitted for the first time and the engine freeze well and truly locked in, the grid found itself matched closer than it had been in a long old time. This resulted in some pretty astonishing figures. Seven different drivers took race wins, including three first-time Grand Prix winners. Fourteen drivers (70 percent of the grid) finished on the podium, including four first timers. Of the 20 drivers that completed the entire season, only two failed to score a point. It was, without doubt, a brilliant season. From the outset it was obvious that the battle for the championship would be waged between the McLarens and Ferraris, but what we could not have foreseen at the opening rounds of the 2008 season was which drivers would be those fighting for the crown. Kimi Raikkonen, as reigning champion, started off in impressive fashion, taking two wins and a second place in the first four races, after a nightmare opening weekend in Australia. But after that fourth race of the season, he wouldn’t see another win all year. His fall from grace was almost as astonishing as was his team-mate Felipe Massa’s rise to prominence. With Raikkonen floundering, Massa stepped up to the plate and very nearly delivered the title. His was the story of 2008 as the diminutive Paulista suddenly came of age. Over at McLaren, it was Lewis Hamilton who was their golden hope. Many had expected Heikki Kovalainen to stretch Hamilton in 2008, but it simply never happened. A big shunt for the Finn in Spain did little for his confidence, but a win in Hungary after Massa’s engine blew did at least give him the victory that bad luck had snatched from him at earlier points in the season. But Kovalainen, as Raikkonen at Ferrari, just didn’t have the game to take it to his team-mate. Ultimately, it was his failure to compete that led to McLaren losing the team title, as Hamilton edged the drivers’ championship by the single point by which he had lost out on glory in 2007. BMW made their presence known