2007 Formula One season
The 2007 Formula One season was the 58th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship, which began on 18 March and ended on 21 October after seventeen events. The Drivers' Championship was won by Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen by one point at the final race of the season, making Räikkönen the third Finnish driver to take the title. An appeal by McLaren regarding the legality of some cars in the final race could have altered the championship standings, but on 16 November, the appeal was reportedly rejected by the International Court of Appeal, confirming the championship results. Räikkönen entered the final race in third position in the drivers' standings, but emerged as champion after the chequered flag, a feat first accomplished by Giuseppe Farina in 1950 and later matched by Alain Prost in 1986. It has since been accomplished again, by Sebastian Vettel, in 2010.
A major talking point of the season had been an espionage controversy involving Ferrari and McLaren, which led to McLaren being excluded from the Constructors' Championship. As a result, Ferrari clinched the championship at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The 2007 season was significant in that it heralded the end of the existing Concorde Agreement between the existing Formula One constructors and Bernie Ecclestone. In particular, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Honda (collectively the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association) had a number of outstanding disagreements with the FIA and Ecclestone on financial and technical grounds. They had threatened to boycott Formula One from the 2008 season onwards and instead stage their own rival series, before signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the 2006 Spanish Grand Prix.
The 2007 Australian Grand Prix was the first time since the 1986 Brazilian Grand Prix that there was a Formula One field without a car with a Cosworth engine. This was also the final season since its reintroduction in 2002 in which the use of traction control was permitted. Standardised engine control units (ECUs) were mandated from the 2008 season onwards, which prevented teams from using the technology.
Teams and drivers
The following teams and drivers participated in the 2007 Formula One season. Drivers' cars are numbered as per the official FIA 2007 entry list. All team details are as per the Formula 1 official website, except where noted. Note that there is no car number 13, as was the historical tradition.
- On 29 August 2006, The FIA published a provisional calendar for the 2007 Formula One season. The San Marino and European Grands Prix were excluded, although the European round would later make a comeback (see below). The final calendar (above), which confirmed that the San Marino Grand Prix would not return, was released on 18 October 2006.
- For the first time in nearly half a century, no German Grand Prix was held as a result of the circuits previously hosting a Grand Prix in Germany beginning to alternate in organizing the German Grand Prix. However, Hockenheim controlled the descriptor "German Grand Prix" and an agreement could not be reached between them and the Nürburgring circuits for the naming rights. The Nürburgring event therefore retained its usual Grand Prix of Europe title.
- After twenty years of being hosted at the Honda-owned Suzuka Circuit, the Japanese Grand Prix moved to Toyota's rebuilt Fuji Speedway, a circuit that F1 had not been raced at since 1977.
- The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorhamps returned after a one-year absence due to track maintenance.
- For the first time since 1975, no country hosted more than one grand prix.
- Although the FIA had planned to introduce a regulation single tyre manufacturer from 2008, there only was one supplier (Bridgestone) from 2007 to 2010, since Bridgestone's only rival, Michelin, ended their participation in Formula One after the 2006 season.
- Tyres were supplied in accordance with the revised Sporting Regulations, which provided for a total of 14 sets of dry weather tyres per driver over the race weekend: four sets for Friday only, and 10 for the rest of the weekend.
- Also, during the race, both compounds of tyre (hard and soft) had to be used at least once during the race. Initially, in the Australian Grand Prix, soft tyres were marked with a white spot. However, this was difficult to see when the car was in motion and, as of the Malaysian Grand Prix, one of the four grooves in the soft compound tyre was painted white.
- The teams finishing 5th–11th in the previous season's Constructors' Championship were no longer allowed to run a third car on Friday following a rule change. The teams that finish 1st–4th were already banned from doing so.
- Engine development was frozen from the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix, with these engines being used for the whole of 2007 and 2008. This was described as engine "homologation" by the FIA. It was previously set to be introduced in 2008.
- All cars were fitted with red, blue and yellow cockpit lights. The purpose was to give drivers information concerning track signals or conditions. The lights had to be LEDs each with a minimum diameter of 5 mm and which were fitted so as to be directly in the driver's normal line of sight.
- In order to give rescue crews an immediate indication of accident severity each car had to be fitted with a warning light which was connected to the FIA data logger. The light had to face upwards and be recessed into the top of the survival cell no more than 150 mm from the car centre line and the front of the cockpit opening and as near to the marshal neutral switch as is practical.
- The two Friday practice sessions were expanded from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. All teams were allowed to use two cars, which could be driven by either the two race drivers or a nominated third driver.
- The engine penalty was only applied in the second day of the grand prix weekend. Any engine change in the first day was not penalised.
- No car was allowed to enter the pits to refuel during a safety car period until all cars were in the group following the safety car and they were advised that the pit lane was open. This prevented drivers from racing to the pits immediately after a safety car was deployed. In addition, any lapped cars in front of a car on the lead lap were required to pass the safety car and restart at the end of the line-up instead of maintaining their physical position.
- The Formula One teams unanimously agreed to the voluntary early introduction of the testing agreement scheduled for 2008. This limited each team to an annual limit of 30,000 km.
- The team's second car had to run with a yellow coloured roll bar instead of a black one. The first cars continued running with a red/orange roll bar. This was intended to help spectators distinguish between first and second cars at further distances.
- 2005 and 2006 World Champion Fernando Alonso switched to McLaren after 5 years at Renault.
- Juan Pablo Montoya, who was a McLaren driver until aftermath of the 2006 United States Grand Prix moved to NASCAR, racing in the Nextel Cup Series for 2007, effectively ending his Formula One career, as announced on 9 July 2006.
- On 2 August 2006, Williams announced that test and reserve driver Alexander Wurz would step up to a race seat for 2007, replacing Australian Mark Webber.
- On 7 August 2006, Red Bull Racing announced their 2007 driver line-up of David Coulthard and Mark Webber, displacing Christian Klien.
- On 7 August 2006, BMW Sauber announced that Jacques Villeneuve's contract had been terminated immediately and for the rest of the season would be replaced by test driver Robert Kubica. Kubica was later announced on 19 October 2006 to retain the race seat for the 2007 season, with Sebastian Vettel remaining as the team's test driver. On 21 December 2006 BMW announced GP2 driver Timo Glock as their second test driver.
- On 6 September 2006, Renault confirmed Heikki Kovalainen as the team's replacement for Fernando Alonso.
- On 10 September 2006, Scuderia Ferrari confirmed Kimi Räikkönen as a replacement for the retiring Michael Schumacher.
- On 15 November 2006, Super Aguri confirmed Anthony Davidson as Sakon Yamamoto's replacement.
- On 24 November 2006, McLaren confirmed Lewis Hamilton as their second driver.
- On 21 December 2006, Spyker confirmed Adrian Sutil as their first driver, replacing WTCC-bound Tiago Monteiro.
- On 10 July 2007, Spyker announced that Christijan Albers would no longer be driving for the team. The given reason was a failure to pay sponsorship monies due. Markus Winkelhock raced Spyker's second car at the European Grand Prix.
- On 25 July 2007 Spyker confirmed that the Japanese driver Sakon Yamamoto would compete in the remaining seven Grands Prix for them.
- On 31 July 2007, Scuderia Toro Rosso replaced Scott Speed with BMW test driver Sebastian Vettel following an alleged physical altercation between Speed and STR Team Principal Franz Tost.
- On 8 October 2007, Williams driver Alexander Wurz announced his immediate retirement from Formula One racing. Williams test driver Kazuki Nakajima replaced Wurz for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
- Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn, was to take a sabbatical year for 2007, after ten seasons at the Italian team. However, it was later announced that he would leave the team. In 2008, Ross Brawn became Team Principal of the Honda team.
- McLaren changed their name to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes after signing a primary sponsorship deal with the telecommunications company late in 2005.
- With the loss of Vodafone, Scuderia Ferrari began working with Alice, a brand of Telecom Italia.
- Mild Seven confirmed that they would not renew their contract with Renault following its conclusion at the end of 2006 due to current European tobacco laws.
- British American Tobacco's Lucky Strike and 555 brands ceased to sponsor the Honda F1 team, leaving them to seek another primary sponsor.
- Williams changed their engines from Cosworth to Toyota in a three-year deal. Contrary to speculation at the time, the engines were not rebadged as Lexus.
- On 9 September 2006, MF1 Racing was officially sold to a Dutch-Arab consortium owned by Michiel Mol, along with the aid of Spyker Cars. The team was officially renamed Spyker MF1 Team, keeping the MF1 for the rest of the season due to Concorde Agreement rules.
- On 30 September 2006, Spyker announced that their engine supplier would be Ferrari.
- On 16 October 2006, Renault confirmed that the Dutch banking company, ING, would become their main sponsor to replace Mild Seven, which has sponsored the Enstone-based team during the 13 years.
- On 20 October 2006, Williams announced AT&T as their new main sponsor.
- On 24 October 2006, Spyker announced they would change their name from Spyker MF1 Team to Spyker F1 from 2007 onwards, subject to all other teams giving their agreement.
- On 31 October 2006, Red Bull confirmed their engine situation for 2007. Renault engines were used by Red Bull Racing, while Scuderia Toro Rosso used Ferrari engines.
- On 15 March 2007, Spyker announced their new title sponsor for the 2007 season: United Arab Emirates airline company Etihad Airways.
- Formula One Management became the sole host broadcaster for all but three of the 17 Grands Prix in 2007. All coverage was produced in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen for the first time.
- ITV Sport, Premiere, OBN, ORF1, RTL7, TF1 and TV3 were among the first broadcasters to provide a standard 16:9 widescreen programme at the opening race in Australia.
- For the United States TV coverage, except Speed Channel, FOX also broadcast 4 Formula One races. Those were the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, 2007 United States Grand Prix, 2007 French Grand Prix and 2007 British Grand Prix. The 2007 Canadian Grand Prix and 2007 United States Grand Prix were televised live.
- In Poland, F1 broadcast was moved into Polsat from TV4.
- In Portugal, SportTV became the broadcaster.
- A new chicane was inserted into the straight between Europcar and New Holland (final corner) at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona. It was installed in order to slow the cars down before the long main straight, and provide more overtaking opportunities into turn 1.
- Spa underwent track changes as well, with a new paddock area, a reprofiled Bus Stop Chicane, an extension of the start-finish straight and a change to La Source hairpin.
- The largest-scale repair in the last 35 years was done to Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, Brazil, to fundamentally solve the problem of the asphalt. All present asphalt was removed and replaced with new asphalt. At the same time, the pit lane entrance was enhanced to improve safety. The circuit was closed and no event was held for five months to allow work, from June to October, until immediately before the event.
Pre-season testing began in November 2006 at the Circuit de Catalunya, with ten of the eleven teams participating in the test sessions. The most notable absentees were Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, who were still under contract at Renault and McLaren respectively. Jenson Button was also absent as he had suffered a hairline fracture on his ribs after a go-karting accident in preparations for the November tests. Lewis Hamilton made his first appearance in a McLaren since being confirmed as Alonso's team-mate for 2007.
Felipe Massa topped the times on the first two days of testing. Massa's testing partner, Luca Badoer, took the fastest time on the third day, although interest was on the fact that double World Champion Mika Häkkinen joined Hamilton and de la Rosa at McLaren for a one off test, although the Finnish driver was over three seconds slower than Badoer's time, completing 79 laps of the Spanish circuit.
The other big story of 2007 was the return to a single tyre formula (Bridgestone). It was perceived that this accounted for some of the reason why Ferrari led the early tests, although it was claimed by Bridgestone that the 2007 tyre is of a completely new build, thus minimising any real benefit for the 2006 Bridgestone teams (Ferrari, Toyota, Williams, Midland/Spyker and Super Aguri).
Toyota was the only team out for the fourth day of testing at Barcelona, as the Japanese works team chose to miss the first day of testing. Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli's fastest laps were quicker than Massa and Badoer's times during the previous three sessions. Testing resumed on 6 December at Jerez, with the majority of teams attending the session. Both Ferraris of Massa and Badoer were first and second fastest, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton making up the top three in third. Hamilton improved on his position the following day by taking the fastest time, a second faster than Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella.
Japanese works teams Honda and Toyota topped the times for the next two days of testing: Honda's Rubens Barrichello and Toyota's Franck Montagny were fastest, although Toyota had the Jerez track to themselves when Montagny took the fastest time. Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa took the fastest times on the fourth and fifth day of testing at Jerez. Also of note, on the last day of testing Fernando Alonso made his McLaren testing debut after an agreement with manager Flavio Briatore. This did not call for an end to his agreement (which ended on 31 December).
The season started at Albert Park in Australia on 18 March. Kimi Räikkönen took a lights to flag victory and became the fourth driver to win on their debut for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso came second and debutant Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd. Felipe Massa took his first pole of the season in Malaysia but Alonso won his first race with McLaren while Hamilton continued his excellent pace to finish second. Massa won from lights to flag in Bahrain and Spain and in both races Hamilton finished second, becoming the first rookie to finish on the podium in more than his first two outings. McLaren dominated Monaco with Alonso winning from Hamilton after the pair had lapped everybody apart from themselves and Felipe Massa, who was not too far from being lapped.
The Canadian GP was a very dramatic affair with 4 safety car periods and one of the biggest crashes of Formula One in that era. The race started off with the second all McLaren front row with Hamilton taking his first pole position followed by Alonso. Alonso made a mistake in turn 1 losing several places while Hamilton was opening a gap between himself and Nick Heidfeld. On lap 22 the first safety car period began after Adrian Sutil hit the concrete wall. The safety car went into the pits on lap 28 but before the lap could be completed Robert Kubica had a massive accident. He had apparently lost his front wing after hitting Jarno Trulli. He then went wide and hit a bump on the grass that launched him into the air and into a massive impact with the retaining barrier at a peak G Force of 75G. The safety car was once again deployed and went in on lap 35. Hamilton once again opened up a gap to second placed Heidfeld until lap 50 when Christijan Albers left a lot of debris on the track after a crash forcing the deployment of the safety car. The race restarted on lap 55 and the safety car was deployed again on lap 56 after Vitantonio Liuzzi hit the so-called 'Wall of Champions'. The safety car period was extended after Jarno Trulli hit the tyre barrier at the exit of the pitlane after trying to catch up with the field. On the restart Hamilton led to the finish to claim his maiden win in only his sixth race. The next race at Indianapolis saw Hamilton take a lights to flag victory after a 300 km/h side by side battle with Alonso for the lead. Ferrari took their first 1–2 finish of the season in France with Kimi Räikkönen winning from polesitter, Felipe Massa.
In Britain Hamilton thrilled his home crowd by taking his third pole position in front of them. It wasn't to last, however, he went on to finish a distant third behind winner, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso. Europe (Germany) would see Hamilton's run of consecutive podiums come to an end. After a mighty crash in qualifying he started in 10th in the race. On lap 4 he aquaplaned off the circuit in a torrential rainstorm but fortunately for him the race was stopped. He restarted after his car was pulled out of the gravel but after taking a gamble to change to dries on a drying track he spun off several times but recovered to finish 9th, just missing out on the final point.
After a controversial qualifying incident between Alonso and Hamilton, Alonso was demoted to 6th on the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton then took a lights to flag victory with Räikkönen coming second. In Turkey Felipe Massa took a dominant lights to flag victory followed by Räikkönen and Alonso. Hamilton finished fifth after he suffered a tyre failure while running in 3rd. In Italy Alonso won from Hamilton followed by Räikkönen. In Belgium Räikkönen won from Massa and Alonso.
The Japanese Grand Prix moved to Fuji Speedway and this event was marked by treacherous weather and was started under safety car conditions. Lewis Hamilton survived a brush with Robert Kubica to win from Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Räikkönen. At the last 3 corners Kubica and Felipe Massa ran side by side in a battle for 6th and Fernando Alonso aquaplaned and crashed on lap 41 of 67. In China, Hamilton won his 6th pole of the season and led up to lap 28 when he was overtaken by Räikkönen and he then spun off entering the pitlane. The season finale marked the first time since 1986 that 3 drivers had a chance of becoming World Champion at the season finale, and the first time since the inaugural season in 1950 that the man who stood in third before the final race went on to win the championship (the driver in 1950 being Giuseppe Farina). Hamilton was the favourite with 107 points followed by Alonso with 103 points and Räikkönen with 100 points. Hamilton started 2nd but dropped to the back of the pack after a gearbox problem. He recovered to 7th but Räikkönen won the race and the championship. The final standings were Räikkönen with 110 points followed by Hamilton and Alonso each with 109 points.
Results and standings
- † Fernando Alonso qualified in pole position but was demoted 5 places due to blocking Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane.
- ‡ McLaren were not allowed to have a team representative on the podium other than a driver.
- ‡* McLaren were not awarded Constructors' Championship points or a trophy on the podium.
Points were awarded to the top eight classified finishers using the following structure:
Bold - Pole
† Drivers did not finish the Grand Prix, but were classified as they completed over 90% of the race distance.
- † After an incident at the end of Qualifying Session 3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, an FIA decision was made that, due to team infringements during qualifying, McLaren would not be awarded any points. The drivers, however, would retain the points won for the Drivers' Championship. 15 points were lost by the team in this event. This punishment was appealed by the team, but they decided to retract it following a greater punishment later in the year.
- ‡ McLaren lost all their points in the Constructors' Championship as a result of a World Motorsport Council decision over the espionage controversy.
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