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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 07:40 GMT
What's new in F1?
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari
Raikkonen is the title favourite following his move to Ferrari
Michael Schumacher has headed off into retirement - but that will be far from the only change in Formula One 2007-style.

The sport's two biggest stars have changed teams, there are promising new drivers, four Britons on the grid for the first time since 2003, and some important rule changes.

This is your at-a-glance guide to what you need to know.


There are an unusually high number of changes among the leading drivers and teams this season.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso and Finn Kimi Raikkonen are now F1's two biggest stars, and both have moved over the winter.

Fernando Alonso in his McLaren-Mercedes
Alonso has moved to McLaren after winning two titles with Renault
After establishing himself as the finest all-round driver in F1, Spaniard Alonso has gone from Renault to McLaren to try to win the title with another team.

And Raikkonen has moved to Ferrari as a replacement for Schumacher.

Their moves have precipitated a most unusual situation - two of the top three teams now have novice drivers.

Renault have replaced Alonso with Finn Heikki Kovalainen, who they believe possesses many of the qualities to become a great.

Alonso himself will be partnered by the other - Englishman Lewis Hamilton, who has been groomed for the top by McLaren for a decade.

There are several other changes down the grid.

The most interesting are the move of Mark Webber to Red Bull alongside David Coulthard, and Englishman Anthony Davidson finally winning a full season's racing for Super Aguri after years as a test driver for Honda.


David Coulthard in his Red Bull-Renault during winter testing
Red Bull have switched from Ferrari to Renault customer engines
At the behest of their highly rated new designer Adrian Newey, Red Bull have switched from Ferrari to Renault engines.

They have hived off the Ferrari V8s to which they were contractually committed to their junior team Toro Rosso, who used Cosworth last year.

Despite Cosworth's impressive performance on a tiny budget last season, Williams have also dumped the historic Northamptonshire company, which now has no place in F1.

Williams have switched to Toyota engines, hoping the link with a major manufacturer will attract sponsors.

Spyker, who used Toyota last year, have switched to Ferrari.


The biggest technical change has stemmed from the withdrawal of tyre supplier Michelin, winner of the last two world titles. That means Bridgestone is the only supplier.

The Japanese company is supplying all teams with the same type of tyres, which will be considerably slower than last year when competition ensured the pace of development was white hot.

Bridgestone Formula One tyres
Bridgestone are the only tyre manufacturer this season
Spectators will barely notice the diminished cornering speeds. Of far greater impact is a new rule requiring teams to use each of the two types of dry tyre supplied by Bridgestone at each race at least once during that race.

The idea behind this is to improve the spectacle by adding unpredictability and an extra layer of tactics to the racing.

Of the two types of tyre, one will always be better suited to the track - and therefore faster - than the other.

Forcing the teams to use both in the course of a race theoretically heightens the prospect of overtaking as the gaps between drivers see-saw depending on which tyre they are using.

To enable those watching to keep pace with what is going on, the two different types of tyre will have as yet unspecific differing white markings on their sidewalls.


To keep a lid on escalating development costs, engines must remain fundamentally unchanged until the end of the 2010 season.

Limited development is allowed in certain specified areas, but the specification of the engine each team will use for the next four years was effectively fixed after last year's Japanese Grand Prix.

In a bid to improve efficiency and to stop the endless quest for more revs as a way of finding extra power, the 2.4-litre V8s will no longer be permitted to develop more than 19,000rpm.

And while the drivers have to use the same engine for two race weekends, that does not apply to Friday practice - so any failure then would not result in a 10-place grid penalty as it did last year.


There is the prospect of much more on-track action for spectators at the tracks following a couple of tweaks to the rules.

Following an agreement to limit testing between races, the two Friday practice sessions have been extended from 60 minutes to 90, and teams will be allowed to do unlimited mileage.

The safety car leads the field during last year's British Grand Prix
Procedures surrounding deployment of the safety car have changed
They will be encouraged to take a full part in these sessions by the already discussed rule that means drivers will not be punished for engine failures in Friday practice.

The safety-car rules have also been changed.

When it is deployed, drivers will no longer be allowed to dive into the pit lane for a quick fuel-and-tyre stop until they are all lined up behind the safety car and the message "pit lane is open" is deployed on the timing monitors.

Any driver doing so will be hit with a 10-second time penalty - although there are likely to be cases when teams judge the advantage to be won from an early pit stop will outweigh the penalty.

A second change will allow lapped cars that are positioned between the leaders to overtake the safety car and rejoin the queue after gaining back their lost lap.

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14 Mar 07 |  Formula One


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