After the frenetic ups and downs that characterised the final few races of 2007, the pre-season outlook for 2008 pointed to a more settled and predictable year.
Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton © XPB
With Fernando Alonso ensconced back at midfield team Renault, reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen looked a solid bet to emulate Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and the Spaniard in consolidating his first championship win by immediately wrapping up a second title.
Raikkonen's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was still generally considered too erratic, and new McLaren signing Heikki Kovalainen too green, to sustain a season-long championship campaign.
That left McLaren's Lewis Hamilton as the major obstacle for the defending champion.