2008 was a crazy season... the drivers championship was won by Ferrari's Massa for a minute before it was taken from him by Hamilton by pulling a last minute overtaking maneuver on a 5th place driver... The reason 2008 was undecided till the last lap of the last GP in part because of good driving by drivers, and in part because of fumbles in the pit.
Top drivers erred like novices - case in point, a) Hamilton bumps off Raikkonen in the pits when he fails to see the pit lane is closed for exit...Hint for Hamilton : If 2 cars in front of u are stopped, take a cue from them and don't think about your girlfriend when you exit the pits. [Pit light was a stupid stupid introduction in 2008 F1... This is not Nascar... If F1 has lived without pit lights for so long, this rule change was completely dumb and an unnecessary introduction...]
b) Hamilton spun the car on a clear dry track proving again that his focus was elsewhere...
c) Raikkonen takes out a Force India car in Monza and ruins their chances of a point scoring 5th place finish... He demonstrates (again) that he was never totally committed into F1 and bringing him to Ferrari was a humongous mistake by the bosses at Maranello - Raikkonen never truly represented the Fierce Ferrari brand in spirit. It takes something special to drive a Ferrai - a passion that a dead-fish-expressioned Raikkonen can never exude.
F1 is unlike any other motorsport - it is the pinnacle of motor racing - the opportunity to convert a mistake by the opponent and capitalise on it presents itself for a brief moment and in those precious milliseconds, if the driver is not 100% committed and focused on the racing and the sport, it is lost equally fast...
The worst performing team, in my opinion was not a rookie team, but it was my favorite team Ferrari - fumbling in the pits, releasing Massa with the fuel hose still stuck in car, it made the tifosi feel Ferrari drivers are battling internal team chaos along with other teams on the track. They had so many lost chances to clinch the championship - chances that were lost by rookie mistakes made in the pit in earlier races... (Both cars queued up in the pit lane, the early release of Massa are the 2 infamously memorable mistakes that come to mind.) The season showed a lack of spirit... a lack of cohesiveness within the team and the cracks in the team were evidently visible after a long reign of superiority and performance expected from the Scarlet champions.
It was clear from what happened in the season that Ferrari had put their money behind the wrong guy. While it was Massa who consistently delivered superior performance and took the fight to McLaren, his championship was lost in the pits when Ferrari fumbled under pressure and internal team politics. Personally speaking, Raikkonen was never a great racer. he can handle an F1 car, but he cannot bring an underperforming car to the top slot. Also, its one thing to muscle a lower order car out of the way, but another thing to hold back a top driver... This is where Raikkonen fails, and Massa fights - Case in point - Belgium GP when Hamilton takes Raikkonen and later Raikkonen puts the Ferrari into the wall... not because he is trying too hard, but in frustration.
The 2008 season was chaotic... The rule changes did manage to achieve what it intended to do - bring F1 fans a season that was not decided till the last lap of the last race - but the achievement arrived with more drama and less style...
F1 also felt the pinch of the global economic crisis and the year saw 2 teams leaving F1. Super Aguri and Honda. And if these were not enough blows to F1, there was Crashgate when the Renault team asked their driver, Nelson Piquet, to deliberately crash his car at a strategic point, thus prompting the deployment of the safety car, right after their other driver Alonso had pitted. F1 hit an all time low in recent times.
But it was not all bad... there were good moments in 2008 which saw some excellent overtaking maneuvers taking place on the circuit... Hamilton proved to be an expert at muscling the competition out of the way and his aggressive moves on the field were a delight to watch.
PS: Shouldn't McLaren be banned in 2008? In moves 12, 11 and 10 in the above vdeo, the front wing of the McLaren is seen to be flexing at high speeds...... As far as I know, F1 cars are not supposed to have moving and flexible wings... Wonder how that was not caught by any of the other teams (unless all has a similar problem or the rule is non-existent in 2008) - can someone enlighten me on this?