2007 F1 Changes Adding Spice - By: Roger Munns
The 2007 F1 Grand Prix season is underway, and in the first race in Melbourne Finland's Kimi Raikkonen secured his position on the winners' podium after driving his Ferrari to victory, with new British driver Lewis Hamilton securing third position in his first ever race.
In the races since then Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed success after success, including second place in the ultimate Grand Prix - Monaco.
Changes both on and off the track could have a dramatic affect on this season's podium finishes, with races expected to be closer than in recent seasons, which have seen a decline in the sport.
Seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher retired from racing at the end of the 2006 season, and his departure has increased the possibility of no individual driver dominating for some time to come.
The ace German driver won his championships in 1994 and 1995, and between 2000 and 2004 won five championships in a row.
Schumacher won some 91 F1 races in his career, amassed more pole positions than any other driver in the history of the Grand Prix's and over 70 competitive fastest laps.
Off the track Bridgestone has become the sole supplier of tyres, and some rule changes have been introduced which should cut the number of tyre changes during the race, and add some extra excitement in overtaking and braking manoeuvres. This really came to the fore at the Monaco Grand Prix where overtaking is notoriously difficult.
A new island is to be built off Monaco, and while the winning bid hasn't been decided upon yet, there is a possibility of the circuit changing in some years to come which might allow for more overtaking places, but locals are more interested at the moment to see whether the cost of housing might be affected.
It is possible that the new island will be incorporated into future Monaco Grand Prix, which could give more overtaking opportunities.
If there is one driver likely to dominate the future years of F1, it could be Britain's Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton is a 22-year-old Formula One racecar rookie who has taken the racing circuit by storm this year, finishing on the podium in third place in his forst Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia, and then second in the Malaysian Grand Prix just two weeks later. He may seem to be an overnight sensation, but he's worked his way into the Formula One racing world since he was a mere youngster.
In an almost unbelievable stroke of luck, young eleven-year-old Lewis participated in, and won, the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future series in 1996 and met Ron Dennis, owner and director of the McLaren Formula One racing team. The introduction proved fortuitous for the youngster, who told Dennis that his goal was to race the Formula One circuit. A mere two years later, McLaren signed Lewis Hamilton to his 'McLaren Driver Development Support' program. The document served to make Lewis, at thirteen years old, the youngest driver in the world to have held an F1 racing contract.
As Lewis became more experienced and participated in pre-Formula One races, he distinguished himself with his dedication and gusto. The boy with the impish grin is still grinning as he poses for publicity shots at various pre-Formula One racing venues in which he has raced, including 2005's F3 Euro series, which he finished with 15 victories and 13 pole positions.
Lewis spent years racing go-karts and participating in Junior Formula One racing events, including the 2001 British F1 Renault winter series and the 2002 Formula Renault UK, as well as races in Macau and Korea's Grand Prix races. In 2005, Autosport magazine ranked Lewis 24th among their top 50 drivers.
As he has worked his way up the ranks, Lewis fast earned a reputation as an extremely gifted driver with the flair for daring racing maneuvers that reminds many of the 'old timers', who maintained top speeds and risky moves as they raced various courses around the world. His star seems to be rising as fast and surely as one of the the first black Formula One racecar drivers in the world.
In 2007, Lewis was signed on as a full time Formula One driver for McLaren's Formula One racing team, a dream come true for the vibrant, personable racer. He made his Formula One racing debut recently at the Australian Grand Prix this part March, coming in third at the prestigious event in Melbourne.
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