TO HEAR PART 2 OF MARK BLUNDELL'S F1 SEASON REVIEW - CLICK HERE.

While Felipe Massa and Ferrari may have lost out in Brazil in terms of the drivers' title, the Scuderia still had the consolation of taking the Constructors' trophy for the second season in succession.

All-in-all 2008 was a vintage year and while, as expected, the big two did take most of the wins, there were some surprises.

Indeed not only did BMW Sauber break its duck at the Canadian GP, when Robert Kubica led home team-mate, Nick Heidfeld, but against the odds Scuderia Toro Rosso also managed a win too, with Sebastian Vettel taking a record breaking victory for the former Minardi team at the Italian GP.

Here Crash.net columnist Mark Blundell looks back over the year and in the second of two interviews about 2008, passes judgement on the performances of the teams'...

Crash.net:
Mark, Ferrari obviously took the constructors' title and in the end they beat McLaren-Mercedes by 21 points - which is quite a margin isn't it, especially as the F2008 and MP4-23 seemed pretty evenly matched?

Mark Blundell:
That is down really to the points collected by Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Even though Kimi was a little bit off colour he did take points when they were needed for the team - and while they weren't always to his liking or the teams he did collect enough to make that difference. The downside for McLaren was all too often Heikki Kovalainen. He didn't score the big handful of points when it was needed and although he tried to play that support role for Lewis Hamilton it didn't really come off. He has had a year when he has been in the shadow of Hamilton but I wouldn't write him off. If he can start next year on a high that will give him the confidence to build and maybe we will see a different Heikki in 09. It is going to be tough when you are up against the existing world champion but that is the challenge.

Crash.net:
Would you say Heikki cost McLaren the constructors'?

MB:
I don't know if it was him who cost them it. McLaren also had a couple of areas of concern that was damaging to both the guys. But as a whole the pairing at Ferrari collected points on a more regular basis than what was happening at McLaren. That is the way it worked out and that is obviously why Ferrari won the constructors'.

Crash.net:
BMW Sauber came on magnificently this year and easily took third spot behind Ferrari and McLaren, but the team seemed to drop back didn't it towards the end of '08?

MB:
They started to concentrate on '09 and trying to get up to speed there as quickly as possible. Whether that was good, bad or indifferent in their decision making process we will have to wait and see. If they come out and are leaders of the pack in 2009 then yes, the forfeit of development on this year's car will be understandable. But if not, maybe on reflection, they might feel there was a little bit more possible. Certainly the drivers probably feel that, especially Robert Kubica. But it is always easy to look at the small picture. It is the big picture that is sometimes hard to see and certain people in certain positions have to make sure they keep that on track.

Crash.net:
Renault in contrast came on stronger and stronger as the season progressed. Are Renault potential title contenders now for 2009?

MB:
There are a lot of people out there that are contenders for '09 in terms of gaining the constructors' title because the technical regulations are going to be up and down with all these changes. It is the biggest set of changes we have probably seen in F1 for 20 years. There is a lot of scope for people to come in, be reliable, be strong and start collecting points early on. A few little glitches will be very costly to a number of people. But it is the likes of people like Renault you have to watch. Renault have done it before, and we have seen them pull off world championships over the last few years, in the drivers' and constructors'. They have definitely got the capabilities but 09 will definitely be an interesting season in general terms.

You have people like Honda too [Mark was speaking before Honda announced it was withdrawing from F1 - Ed] and a lot of pressure is mounting now on their shoulders. They have got Ross Brawn and 2009 has to be a solid year for them. It has to be a progressive one because off the back of '08 things have definitely gone south. There was just nothing to show from 2008. That was never the intention from the beginning of it and the Honda Motor Company will be studying and monitoring. But there is no reason to believe they cannot go forward.

Crash.net:
Toyota was very solid and finished fifth in the constructors. They scored 56 in total - following 16 points finishes, including two podiums. But was that good enough in your view?

MB:
I think they have come on actually. Toyota has been steadily improving and as a team that has shown through. They have been consistent and reliable. They have had two guys who have been collecting points as well as they could do and putting themselves up there when the car was capable of being in the points. Overall I think yes - it was good enough. It was a strong performance although there is room for improvement. I'd say Toyota should be reasonably happy.

Crash.net:
One of the biggest surprises had to be Toro Rosso - and the fact they beat sister team, Red Bull Racing...

MB:
It was a big surprise for everybody down the pit lane. When you look at them and break it down they are only a small team. But they had some fantastic results and that was down to the drivers' and team. There was some good decision making, some good gambles, but ultimately they had reliability, consistency and they definitely had performance. That was something that was very evident when you compared Red Bull to Toro Rosso. Obviously the big difference was what engine was in the back of those cars. But you can't take anything away from them - it was a fantastic achievement.

Crash.net:
How would you assess the year for Williams?

MB:
I think one of some disappointment. They lack funding now and it is a great shame to see that situation because Williams is one of the big names in grand prix racing. I'd love to see them get a more solid foundation behind them so that they can do what they do best - and that is engineering and producing a good solid race car. They have had some areas of concern with some financial issues with some of their sponsors not being in position and in place. But overall they are still capable of producing a grand prix winning car and they need to get back to doing that very quickly. They have got two young guys there in Nico Rosbeg and Kazuki Nakajima and there is good potential in those two. They both put in inspirational drives on occasions when it was possible to get the car there - but the FW30 was just not consistent enough. They need to make sure they get their heads around that and do better in 2009.

Crash.net:
Force India didn't score - but since the end of the season Colin Kolles and Mike Gascoyne have both been axed and a tie-up with McLaren Mercedes has been confirmed. It is going to be interesting isn't it to see how they do now in '09?

MB:
It will be very interesting and they should make good progress very early on because that technical partnership with McLaren should be a real boost. I could quite easily see those guys taking over from Toro Rosso and moving ahead of them. It was a smart move to link up with McLaren, although it will take a bit of time to get the infrastructures and working relationships up to full speed. But a lot of good has been done there with Force India's move across to Mercedes and McLaren Technology.

Crash.net:
Super Aguri folded early in 2008, to what extent do you think the team was missed?

MB:
I think everyone missed them because it was a small bunch of people doing a great job. But as ever financial instability took its toll. You have to take your hat off and credit them for being there and putting something together in a very short space of time. Unfortunately though, they weren't there very long. But they had some great achievements and I think a lot of people missed them.

TO HEAR PART 2 OF MARK BLUNDELL'S F1 SEASON REVIEW - CLICK HERE.

Coming soon: Mark Blundell looks into his 'crystal ball' and previews the 2009 F1 season.

by Rob Wilkins

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