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Will 2007 Be Remembered as a Good Year for Ferrari?

In Formula One success at the end of each season is judged not only on driver achievements, but also by the performance of the fiercely competitive manufacturers. Ferrari is on the only team in Formula 1 to have competed in every season of the World Championships since 1950, and obvious favourite with many fans. This year saw the Italian team awarded the Constructors' title before the end of the season, the first win for Ferrari since 1999; but amidst huge controversy surrounding archrivals Ferrari and McLaren, with animosity between the teams and within. But what do the Constructors' Championships mean to the F1 teams, and to the individual drivers? And will this be a good year for Ferrari merchandise?

FIA has awarded the Formula One World Constructors' Championships annually since 1958, to the team with the greatest points accumulated in individual Grands Prix by team drivers. Scuderia Ferrari has won this prestigious award 15 times since 1961. Arriving later on the testosterone-fuelled F1 scene in 1974, McLaren have gained a modest eight Constructors' titles, with a mixture of Ford, Honda and Mercedes engines. The first-ever Constructors' award was won in 1958 by team Vanwall, one of the pioneers of British Motor Racing. These days the Constructors' title is big business, worth in the region of $50 million. The Drivers' Championships, on the other hand, is more popular with F1 fans.

Following allegations earlier in the year, in September McLaren-Mercedes were disqualified from the Constructors' title for 'industrial espionage', through their possession of a document detailing Ferrari technical specifications. Former Ferrari Chief Mechanic Nigel Stepney (who has since claimed he was set up) reportedly sent the documents to McLaren's former chief engineer. Email evidence at a re- trial revealed that McLaren test driver De La Rosa also had the information, and was corresponding with Fernando Alonso regarding Ferrari design, pit-stop strategy and braking system. However, drivers and engineers testified in September that none of the Ferrari information was used in McLaren designs.

Nonetheless, McLaren were fined $100m (minus what they would have gained from the title and television coverage), the biggest penalty in F1 history. McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were allowed to keep the points they had accrued in exchange for providing information to the trial, leaving them in first and second places respectively for the Drivers' Championships. With BMW-Sauber 57 points behind, Ferrari's first and second places in the Belgian Grand Prix gave them the points they needed to gain the Constructors' title. Meanwhile, McLaren have to provide full technical specifications for their 2008 car, to show that none of the Ferrari information has been used in their designs. They will also be subject to further sanctions, to be determined at the end of this season. Alonso is reportedly no longer on speaking terms with his team and is said to be considering a defection to Ferrari, fuelled also by rivalry with teammate and rising star Lewis Hamilton.

As for Ferrari, Michael Schumacher was the last driver to boost team performance to win the Constructor's Championship in 2004 with the remarkable F2004, which marked the end of a series of six consecutive Constructor's titles for Ferrari. When he retired in September 1996 'Schumi' as he was affectionately known had won five consecutive drivers' titles with Ferrari, and is considered by many to be the greatest F1 driver ever.

Kimi Raikkonen the newest Ferrari star, recently won the Belgian Grand Prix, his third consecutive win this season. At the time of writing, Raikkonen has 84 points, and is 13 points behind Hamilton, and 11 points behind Alonso. There are three games left in the season, but with Lewis Hamilton's performance in his very first season it is likely that Ferrari faces a major challenge to win the Driver's Championship as well. I doubt that this will damage sales of Ferrari Merchandise too much, but without a hero like Schumacher, we won't see them rise too much either.

About The Author Shaun Parker is a keen follower of Formula 1, and has a large collection of Formula 1 Merchandise. To find out more see http://www.official-merchandise.com
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