The winners and losers of 2007 - Part One 24 Oct 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.
2006 - 17th, 2007 - 9th (+8)
There were flashes of brilliance in Nico Rosbergs 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 theres talk of him replacing Alonso at McLaren, should the Spaniard move on
2006 - 22nd, 2007 - 17th (+5)
Takuma Sato remains Japans 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 Satos hard work, no longer are Super Aguri a permanent feature on the back row of the grid, rather genuine mid-field contenders.
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 teams 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?
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 BMWs 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 teams best ever result), third in Hungary and was fourth on a further five occasions. In essence, he didnt 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.