Comfortable world constructors' champions, eight grand prix victories and missing out on the drivers' championship by a single point with Felipe Massa, this was a terrific season for Maranello, the first under the full leadership of Stefano Domenicali following the official retirement of Jean Todt.
Much against expectations, Massa proved the stronger performer for the team over the balance of the year, as Kimi Raikkonen too often struggled for someone of his reputation and salary. A car with an understeer balance not to his taste and not always being fully match fit were two of the contributory causes to Kimi's struggle. But another was undoubtedly the way Massa impressively stepped up his own game, by turns controlled and inspired by his race engineer Rob Smedley. The relationship between a driver and his engineer is a much under-estimated performance factor and in Massa's case even more critical than normal. His temperament is such that he needs guidance to keep his energies aligned through a race weekend and his underlying humility allowed him to accept Smedley's lead in this. As a result, his potential was unlocked far more regularly, even compared to his already improved 2007 performance.
He was dominant from the front in Bahrain, Turkey, Valencia and Brazil and was robbed after similar performances in Hungary and Singapore, while in Monaco, Canada and Japan he showed grit and flair when in places other than the lead, nailing a previous criticism. There's a lot that's great about Massa's driving: he can brake super-late, is very committed into fast corners, can maintain way more momentum with understeer than most, he's brave in wheel-to-wheel situations and he can put together a great qualifying lap when his car is as he likes it. Only occasionally did his lack of finesse surface - in Australia and Malaysia, with incidents where he seemed to struggle with the loss of driver aids, and Britain - and he's generally not great with an oversteering car, which the Ferrari rarely was. In fact, as Massa emerged as Ferrari's title hope, development of the car moved towards him and away from Raikkonen.