Ferrari F2008, the last Prancing Horse World Championship car



The Ferrari F2008 represents the fifty-fourth single-seater built by Scuderia Ferrari to participate in the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship. This car replaces the winning Ferrari F2007, which conquers the world champion in both the constructors' and drivers' standings thanks to Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa,.


From an aerodynamic point of view, the F2008 is quite different from the previous model: the side protections for the rider's helmet are higher, while the bellies and the conformation under the rider's legs are much more tapered.


The intervention on the side guards is due to the new rules imposed by the Federation: the technical regulation now imposes limits for the use of composite materials, consequently the car is slightly heavier than the F2007.



Moreover, compared to the car of the previous season, the F2008 is lower and shorter, therefore more reactive: this technical choice by the engineers is due to the need to make the car's response more ready, since the 2008 technical regulation prohibits the use of traction control, i.e. electronic traction control. In addition to this, it should be noted the absence of the launch control, also an electronic aid useful in the starting phase, with the aim of not letting the drive wheels skid, obtaining maximum acceleration at the start.


Slight changes made to the engine, which uses the same volume and architecture as that of the previous season, since the FIA ​​requires the lack of development of the new engines until 2010. It should be pointed out that this engine, compared to the 2007 version, has been mellowed at high revs, for maximum performance without electronic traction control.


In addition, particular attention must be paid to the particularity of the new fuels, used by both Ferrari and other teams, characterized by new blends falling within the European Union regulations, and by 5.57% derived from biomass.

F2008K


At the end of the 2008 championship, the team from Maranello begins to carry out track tests of the car for the 2009 season.


In reality, nothing is yet defined, as the car for 2009 is not yet completed, but since the F2008 is a particularly competitive car, the team from Maranello chooses to use it as a starting point for the new project.


This choice is definitely sensible, because it starts from a highly performing and tested model, but which at the same time contrasts with the dictates of the new regulation, which provides for very strict constraints on the aerodynamic appendages, as well as the introduction of the KERS system, for the energy recovery and, last but not least, the use of slick type dry tires.


The F2008 with the K.E.R.S system on board is called F2008K.


On November 11, 2008, just over a week after the end of the championship, Ferrari carried out tests on the Fiorano track with the so-called F2008K, driven by Luca Badoer.


In reality, around this car there is a great aura of mystery, since there is no presence of photographs that immortalize its appearance, nor are its precise specifications known: it is only made known that the K at the end of the abbreviation F2008 indicates the KERS system, which (derived from aerospace technologies) has very small dimensions and is located in a central position at the bottom of the body, in such a way as to reduce the height of the car's center of gravity.


The batteries, on the other hand, are positioned immediately behind the driver's seat, creating many problems of thermal disposal. Overall, the new kinetic energy recovery system weighs between seven and eight kilograms.


A triumphal season in the middle


The first race held was at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16, 2008.


During the season the car proved to be very fast, so much so that it obtained the highest number of victories compared to the competitors of the other teams. Particularly fast on medium downforce tracks, its strength lies precisely in its fluid dynamic qualities.


In fact, unlike the McLaren MP4-23, it manages to get the most out of it thanks to the quality of the aerodynamic project rather than the mechanical part, a strong point of the rival who enjoys very advanced suspension. For this reason, one of its weaknesses is the time it takes to bring the tires to the right operating temperature.


This factor leads to a non-optimal use of the tires, which therefore lose grip when exiting corners when the drivers sink their foot on the accelerator, making them waste precious time. Furthermore, failing to enjoy good grip, there are also problems during braking, since the stopping distances get longer and lap times soar further.


Even when cornering, the problems of grip are felt, generating a strong understeer that triggers very wide trajectories, especially in the tightest corners, and this factor is also detrimental to timed times.


However, in hot track conditions, full of long bends in support and with the use of hard tire compounds, the F2008 is undoubtedly the fastest car. At the end of the season, in fact, it turns out to be the best performing car, so much so that it won the constructors' championship, the sixteenth in the history of the Maranello team.


In addition, it allows Felipe Massa to fight for the world championship reserved for the drivers, which was subsequently vanished at the last corner of the last lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix, with the British driver Hamilton overtaking Timo Glock, finishing in fifth position, thus securing the title for just one point more than the Rio de Janeiro rival.


The inaugural appointment in Australia turns into an unlucky weekend for Ferrari, as Felipe Massa is forced to retire, and his teammate fails to go beyond an eighth position.


Subsequently, the team from Maranello recovered from the second Grand Prix of the season, and in the first part of the season won five victories, two with Raikkonen in Malaysia and Spain, three with Felipe Massa in Bahrain, Turkey, and France, three second places in Bahrain, Spain and France, and two third places in Turkey and Monaco.


However, the F2008 is also the victim of some reliability problems that affect the path of its drivers. The most striking cases turn out to be problems with the electronic engine management unit, which lead to the retirement of Felipe Massa in the inaugural race in Australia, as well as the breakage of two faulty connecting rods in the Hungarian Grand Prix and the European Grand Prix.


In the first case, this break puts an end to Massa's race, authoritatively leading the Grand Prix and who, three laps from the end, is forced to retire. On the second occasion, however, it is his turn to teammate Kimi Räikkönen.


In the second part of the season, the car appears to have less impact on the results, and Felipe Massa takes only three victories in the Grand Prix of Europe, Belgium and Brazil, a second place in China, and a third place in Germany, out of nine races, seeing Lewis Hamilton recover valuable points from a world perspective.


Especially in Singapore, due to a carelessness of the pit operations manager, Massa is given the go-ahead to restart from his lay-by while the mechanics are still refuelling his car. When his F2008 starts up again, he drags the fuel pump hose behind it, which gets stuck in the car's filler.


The Brazilian stops at the exit of the pits and his mechanics follow him to remove the pipe, but the time lost is such as to no longer allow him to fight for the race, also thanks to a penalty for the dangerous maneuver against Sutil, when before of the belay the Brazilian, who had started from pole position, was firmly in command of the race.


Antonio Timpini, the mechanic who takes care of refuelling the car, is injured in the accident. Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, fails to go beyond four third places obtained in Japan, China and Brazil.



Over the course of the season, in addition to the problem in Singapore, and the mistake made in Great Britain, Massa's car is set up with a dry track set-up while the race takes place under a torrential downpour, with the Italian-Brazilian who is the victim of a spin five times, during a pit stop during qualifying the mechanics screwed the nut of a wheel on Massa's car badly, compromising the qualifications of the Brazilian driver, who was forced to start ninth on the grid.


Despite the high competitiveness of the Ferrari F2008, errors and reliability problems allow Lewis Hamilton to present himself at the start of the last seasonal Grand Prix in Brazil still fighting for the title.


Ferrari is clearly the favorite for the win, also by virtue of the excellent qualifying; but Hamilton appears to have an advantage in the drivers' championship, despite a not exactly exciting qualification.


For the race, the chance of rain is ninety-one percent according to meteorologists, so total uncertainty reigns. Three minutes before the start of the reconnaissance lap, the forecasts proved to be correct, as a violent storm broke out which momentarily flooded the track, forcing the race marshals to postpone the start for ten minutes.


As fast as it had come, the rain stopped falling on the circuit, but all the teams chose to start with intermediate tires. At the start Massa, Trulli and Räikkönen firmly hold their positions; Hamilton maintains the fourth position also thanks to Kovalainen, who facilitates the passage of his partner at the first corner.


However, the McLaren Finn is too submissive, and between the Reta Oposta and the Descida do Lago is slipped by both Vettel and former teammate Fernando Alonso. At the first corner Rosberg hits Coulthard, and Piquet is also stopped. Consequently, the safety car enters the track and remains there until the fourth lap.


At the restart, Felipe Massa immediately tries to escape, and on the home track imposes a very high and unattainable pace for all the other drivers; Räikkönen tries twice to attack Jarno Trulli in second position, without being able to overtake him.


In the meantime, the track dries up and Giancarlo Fisichella changes the tires and goes to a dry set; when the intermediates of the Roman driver begin to appear competitive, Vettel and Alonso stop on the ninth lap, followed by Massa the next lap, while Lewis Hamilton stops on the eleventh lap together with Trulli and Räikkönen, slipping into seventh position behind Fisichella and Trulli.


The following lap, Trulli misses the first corner losing three positions.


After thirteen laps Felipe Massa is therefore in the lead, followed by Vettel, Alonso, Räikkönen, Fisichella and Hamilton. While the first three stretch, Hamilton does not take any risks and begins to take measures to Fisichella, to then pass him at the first corner during the eighteenth lap; Glock also passes Force India and remains in the wake of the English driver.


Meanwhile, the Brazilian from Ferrari continues to score fastest laps in series, but Vettel is following him, keeping the gap in the order of the second. Vettel thus returns to the twenty-seventh lap to refuel, falling to sixth position ahead of Kovalainen, who in the meantime overtakes Trulli and Fisichella.


Halfway through the race, without waiting for further rain, the situation seems to consolidate with Massa imposing a four-second gap between himself and Alonso, fourteen on Räikkönen, and twenty on the pair formed by Hamilton and Timo Glock.


On lap 36, the German Toyota driver made a long stop, to go all the way to the end of the race, slipping to fourteenth position; on lap thirty-eight Massa also stops for the second stop, and returns fourth. Two laps later the second stop for Alonso and Hamilton takes place, while in the next two laps it is Räikkönen's turn, and Vettel temporarily returns second.



The order is then led by Massa, followed by Vettel, Alonso, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Webber and Kovalainen. English is calm: Webber has yet to stop. On the fiftieth lap Vettel makes the third stop, and returns just behind Hamilton: now the Englishman is fourth and virtually World Champion, but on the sixtieth lap, while Räikkönen is in the wake of Alonso, and Vettel glued to Hamilton, the sky above Interlagos returns to threaten rain.


The Englishman can still afford to lose a position and with twenty seconds ahead of his first real rival, Glock, seventh behind Kovalainen, he still looks safe. Five laps later the rain becomes more intense, so Alonso, Räikkönen, Hamilton and Vettel stop in the pits to change tires.


The next lap Massa also stops, who has a good margin to manage. However, the track remains dry and those who still have slick tires, like Glock in fourth position, manage to set competitive times. Hamilton is now under siege by Vettel, unable to afford to be bypassed.


During the sixty-ninth lap, at the Juncao corner, the Englishman comes slightly long and the German slips in. The Englishman seems in a position to lose another title, after the mockery of twelve months earlier. However, fate has the most incredible of the finals in store, in which the joke will be for Massa and the Ferrari fans.


In the two remaining laps Hamilton tries to regain the fifth place he absolutely needs to become champion, meanwhile Glock starts the last lap with fifteen seconds over Hamilton, but the rain is getting more intense and the track is now completely wet.


Thus, while Felipe Massa crosses the finish line in first place as World Champion amidst the jubilation of the Brazilian public, once again at Juncao the Englishman overtakes Glock, very slow due to the dry tires.


Hamilton becomes the youngest world champion in Formula 1 history.


Ferrari still managed to conquer the constructors' title, which was narrowly won over rivals McLaren, thanks also to the second and third final places in the drivers' standings of Massa and Räikkönen respectively.


The F2008 concludes its history after having conquered eight victories, eleven podiums, thirteen fastest laps and eight pole positions, for a total of 172 championship points.

Andrea Rasponi

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