2007 Team Review - Ferrari 04 Dec 2007
While world champions Renault started the 2007 season without their star driver, runners-up Ferrari had a much bigger battle on their hands. Not only had they lost Michael Schumacher, who for 10 years had been the lynchpin of the team, technical director Ross Brawn and engine director Paulo Martinelli had also moved on to pastures new.
Many believed the breakup of Ferraris dream team, which had secured five successive drivers title and six consecutive constructors trophies, would spell disaster. But with Jean Todt still at the helm, joined by new sporting and technical directors Stefano Domenicali and Mario Almondo, there were still reasons for optimism, not least their new star driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Throughout winter testing the F2007 looked quick and at the season opener in Australia Raikkonen stamped his authority on the opposition, taking pole position, fastest lap and victory. Although Felipe Massa had a much tougher ride in the second car, Ferrari were undoubtedly the team to beat, knocking title-holders Renault for six.
McLaren, however, were to prove a much tougher proposition for the Italian squad - Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had finished the Australian race in second and third. In Malaysia too it was clear the MP4-22 was a more than capable contender and when the FIA tightened the regulations relating to moveable floors - following a clarification request from McLaren - it was Ferrari that suffered.
Even so Massa enjoyed wins in Bahrain and Spain, but then Ferrari were dealt another blow when their wind tunnel suffered a failure. On top of this the F2007s reliability was proving somewhat delicate, at least in relation to McLaren, and it was Massa who suffered most. Raikkonen banked more wins in France and Britain, but even he looked unlikely to stay in touch with Hamilton and Alonso over the long haul.
By then, of course, the two rival teams were fighting an equally embittered battle in the courtroom, in the infamous spying scandal, and when McLaren were eventually found guilty and stripped of their 2007 constructors points, Ferrari were assured of at least one title. As is turned out, they ultimately would have won it anyway.
Back on track in the chase for the drivers crown it would be consistency that proved key. With Massa out of contention thanks to a mix of mistakes and misfortune earlier in the season, Ferrari were able to focus their efforts on Raikkonen. As the team went from strength to strength in the closing rounds, the Finn rewarded them with podiums in each of the last seven races, three of them wins.
Even then, however, Raikkonen was the rank outsider heading into the season finale in Brazil. But by that point, Ferrari had really got a handle on the F2007 and Massas pole position put him in ideal position to support his team mates title bid. Admittedly Raikkonen needed his McLaren rivals to suffer some misfortune, but it was he who ensured he was in the right place at the right time in the race, taking not just victory, but also the championship after the red cars comfortably outpaced the McLarens. Against the odds, Ferrari were left toasting the dawn of a new era in their illustrious history with both of the seasons prizes.