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The 2007 News Review, Part One - January to March 13 Dec 2007

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 ahead of Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 in the pitlane. Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday 20 October 2007. World © Sutton Aguri Suzuki (JPN), Team Principal Super Aguri F1 Team. Super Aguri SA06 Silverstone Event, Silverstone, England, 15 January 2007. World © Moy/Sutton McLaren race drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at the launch of the McLaren MP4-22. 15th January 2007. © McLaren Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari Abu Dhabi to host Formula One Grand Prix in 2009, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 3 February 2007. World ©  www.abudhabigp.com Red Bull Racing filming at Stekl Castle south of Prague, Czech Republic. David Coulthard (GBR) and Mark Webber (AUS). © GEPA pictures/ Franz Pammer

The 2007 Formula One season was one of the busiest ever in terms of press coverage. Not only did the thrilling on-track action provide huge headlines, there was also a seemingly endless stream of crucial off-track developments that kept the media constantly on their toes.

In the opening instalment of a four-part feature, we take a look back at the stories that caught our attention during the first three months of the year, from McLaren’s spectacular launch in Valencia, to the burgeoning ‘customer car’ row...

January:
The New Year gets underway with a bang as Ferrari CEO Jean Todt is awarded France’s second highest honour and made a Grand Officier of the Legion d’Honneur. Super Aguri, meanwhile, announce they will retain their 2006 race driver Sakon Yamamoto as an official test driver.

Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit announces it will host an official Formula One test in March and the FIA votes to establish a new Formula One Manufacturers’ Advisory Commission to provide all car makers an official voice. McLaren sells a 30 percent stake in its group to a company owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain.

World champion Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen both put in appearances with their respective new teams. Alonso visits McLaren’s Woking factory, while Raikkonen joins Ferrari for their annual ski event at Italian resort Madonna di Campiglio. Toyota, meanwhile, become the first team to unveil their 2007 challenger, the TF107.

A few days later, Ferrari also get back to business, revealing their new contender, the F2007. It is the 53rd single-seater built by the Italian team to compete in Formula One racing. Super Aguri team principal, Aguri Suzuki, returns to the cockpit to drive the SA06 at a special event at Silverstone, alongside fellow Formula One veterans Martin Brundle and Christian Danner.

McLaren launch the MP4-22 at a spectacular event held at Valencia’s Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias. Both Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are in attendance. BMW Sauber swiftly follow suit, also choosing the Spanish city to unveil their 2007 car, the F1.07. Within a week, Renault, Honda and Red Bull get in on the action, revealing their new challengers to the media.

In track news, Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya unveils several revisions to its layout, including a new safety-boosting chicane, while Bahrain signs a deal to extend its Formula One contract. Twenty-one year-old Giedo van der Garde makes his debut as an official tester for Super Aguri, while Toyota confirm Franck Montagny will replace fellow Frenchman Olivier Panis as the Japanese squad’s test driver.

February:
Van der Garde makes the headlines again when Spyker name him as one of four new testers to join the team. In response Super Aguri assert that they have a contract with the young Dutch driver. After a trying 2006 campaign, Williams look ahead to the new season as they unveil the Toyota-powered FW29. Abu Dhabi is in high spirits too, as it celebrates news that it will host a Grand Prix from 2009 with a spectacular street demonstration.

Back in the United Kingdom, Spyker unveil the Ferrari-powered F8-VII, while a week later in Spain Toro Rosso reveal their similarly-engined 2007 challenger, the STR02. BMW Sauber continue to impress in testing, with Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock finishing first and third during a rainy last day in Jerez.

Renault announce they will leave the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association in the hope they will be better placed to enjoy a more constructive dialogue with the FIA. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa adds another trophy to his collection after winning the prestigious Lorenzo Bandini award.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber and David Coulthard star in the team’s pre-season film, while sister team Toro Rosso eventually confirm Scott Speed as a driver for the ’07 season after a significant delay. Fernando Alonso takes a break from Formula One testing to help launch a new scholarship programme for budding Spanish engineers.

After debuting the RA107 back in January, Honda unveil its unique livery. The innovative ‘green’ design, featuring a huge image of the earth, is part of an initiative to help raise awareness of environmental issues.

March:
With testing time running out, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella admits that the French title-holders may struggle to match the pace of Ferrari and McLaren once the season gets underway. Ferrari celebrate their 60th anniversary with a street demonstration in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Spyker replace their luminous livery with a much more subdued orange colour. Formula One racing’s sole tyre manufacturer Bridgestone announce they will make their two specifications of dry-weather race tyres visibly different from each other. In line with the 2007 Formula One Sporting Regulations, drivers must use both compounds during each race.

Honda sign British Formula Three champion Mike Conway in a testing role, while fellow Japanese competitors Super Aguri unveil their new challenger, the SA07, in Melbourne. Ferrari’s Raikkonen has the dubious honour of becoming the first driver to be fined in 2007, after exceeding the pit-lane speed limit during Friday practice for the season-opener in Australia. He makes up for the error on Saturday by clinching pole.

Spyker announce they plan to go to arbitration to determine the legality of the Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Super Aguri cars after Melbourne stewards decline to rule over 'customer car' allegations. The FIA axes traction control for the 2008 season and beyond.

Part Two coming soon.