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The winners and losers of 2007 - Part One 24 Oct 2007

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams reads Red Bulletin.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 30 June 2007 The Super Aguri Racing F1 Team team celebrate sixth position for Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team with Daniel Audetto (ITA) Super Aguri F1 Team Managing Director..
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari celebrates the World Championship with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 20 October 2007

With all the excitement of the championship fight over the closing rounds, it has been easy to forget what has been going on further down the grid. Whose value has gone up this season, and who has found himself plummeting down the pecking order? We compared the 2006 and 2007 driver standings to discover the biggest movers - in both directions.

The winners…

Nico Rosberg
2006 - 17th, 2007 - 9th (+8)

There were flashes of brilliance in Nico Rosberg’s ’06 debut season, but a mixture of inexperience and poor reliability ultimately meant nine retirements and just four points. This year the young German has come of age, proving not only spectacularly quick, but also consistent. In qualifying his speed was awesome, humbling veteran team mate Alex Wurz as he made the top-ten shootout on no less than nine occasions. Some mature, aggressive racing meant he also took the bulk of Williams’ points (20 of 33) and he capped an excellent season with a career-best fourth place in Brazil. No wonder there’s talk of him replacing Alonso at McLaren, should the Spaniard move on…

Takuma Sato
2006 - 22nd, 2007 - 17th (+5)

Takuma Sato remains Japan’s most successful Formula One driver. He may not have qualified on the front row or finished on the podium this year (he has done so in the past), but he more than proved his worth. His 2007 season started superbly, when he gave Super Aguri their first top-ten qualifying result in Australia. He went one better in Spain, landing the fledgling team their first point. And in Canada he scored their best result to date, with an impressive sixth place. Thanks in no small part to Sato’s hard work, no longer are Super Aguri a permanent feature on the back row of the grid, rather genuine mid-field contenders.

Kimi Raikkonen
2006 - 5th, 2007 - 1st (+4)

What can you say about Kimi Raikkonen? We already knew he was a potential world champion and this year the right equipment at the right time finally enabled him to prove the point. And what a contrast to 2006. Then he failed to win a single race with McLaren. A year on and he has won six - and the drivers’ crown - with Ferrari, frustrating his former team’s title aspirations in the process. He signalled his intent early on, with victory in the Australian opener, but from round two onwards he became the hunter rather than the hunted. Keeping his ‘iceman’ cool throughout, only at the deciding round in Brazil did he regain the championship lead. The only downside - how does he top it in 2008?

Nick Heidfeld
2006 - 9th, 2007 - 5th (+4)

While his Ferrari and McLaren rivals were busy slugging it out for the title, Nick Heidfeld was quietly putting in one of the most assured and consistent campaigns of 2007. Having raised his game to tame hotshot team mate Robert Kubica, the experienced German was the mainstay of BMW’s rise to second spot in the constructors’ standings. He qualified in the top eight at every round, and in the 15 races he finished, only once did he fail to score. He took second place in Canada (the team’s best ever result), third in Hungary and was fourth on a further five occasions. In essence, he didn’t put a foot wrong - remove the red and silver cars and Heidfeld was the class of the field. Not only that, with his new look of unkempt beard and seventies’ shades, he also became the coolest man on the grid.

Coming soon in Part Two - the 2007 losers.