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The 2007 News Review, Part Four - October to December 01 Jan 2008

Jean Todt (FRA) Ferrari Sporting Director, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes celebrate on the podium
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007 Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 6 October 2007 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Force India. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 04 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Ron Dennis (GBR) McLaren Team Principal speaks to the media after the race
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007 FIA World Touring Car Championship - Dr Mario Theissen, BMW FIA Gala Awards Ceremony, Monte Carlo, Monaco, 7 December 2007. © FIA

From Kimi Raikkonen’s first drivers’ championship, to Alexander Wurz’s last Formula One appearance, to a second ‘spygate’ controversy - in the final part of our four-part feature we look back at the stories that made the headlines during the final three months of 2007...

October:
Ralf Schumacher confirms he will leave Toyota at the end of the season after three years with the Japanese squad. Local hero Ho-Pin Tung, who in 2003 became the first Chinese driver to test a Formula One car, is the star attraction at BMW Sauber’s Pit Lane Park at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Stewards announce that they are to examine evidence concerning Lewis Hamilton’s supposedly erratic driving behind the safety car at the Japanese race after both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber hint that it played a role in their shunt. They eventually choose not to punish the British driver.

After colliding with Webber in Fuji, Vettel bounces back in Shanghai, enjoying a sterling drive to fourth place - the Toro Rosso team’s best result to date. Ferrari, meanwhile, celebrate their 200th Formula One victory as Kimi Raikkonen keeps his title hopes alive with a win in China. Polesitter Hamilton, who had looked set to wrap up the championship, leaves the race empty handed after beaching his McLaren in the gravel at the pit entrance.

Williams driver Alexander Wurz confirms he is to retire from Formula One racing with immediate effect. The Austrian made his debut in 1997 for Benetton and made 69 Grand Prix starts. Williams tester Kazuki Nakajima steps into his race seat for the season finale in Brazil.

Fernando Alonso meets with Italian magistrates as part of an ongoing legal investigation concerning McLaren’s possession of confidential Ferrari information. Prodrive admit they are looking at alternative options for the organisation’s planned 2008 Formula One entry, after delays in confirming an expected customer-car arrangement with McLaren. Prodrive’s plans were placed in doubt due to the ongoing dispute over the legality of customer cars.

BMW Sauber’s Mario Theissen praises the team’s achievements during the 2007 season ahead of the Brazilian season finale. Toro Rosso lose out after appealing against Vitantonio Liuzzi’s penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix. The decision means that Spyker’s Adrian Sutil keeps the point he scored at the Fuji race - both his and the team’s first.

Ferrari announce they have extended their contract with Felipe Massa until the end of the 2010 season. Spyker’s new owners, Indian businessman Vijay Mallya and Dutch entrepreneur Michiel Mol, confirm they intend to change the team’s name to Force India for 2008.

The FIA reveals plans to freeze engine development for ten years from 2008 and green lights Singapore’s night race. BMW Sauber announce the appointment of Christoph Zimmermann as the team’s new chief designer. Honda win two prestigious prizes at the 2007 Green Awards and announce that GP2 drivers Mike Conway, Luca Filippi and Andreas Zuber will all get the chance to test a Formula One car before the year is out.

November:
McLaren announce that former world champion Fernando Alonso is to leave the team, after agreeing to a ‘mutual parting of ways’. Sixty thousand fans, meanwhile, turn out to see 2007 championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes’ annual Stars & Cars event in Stuttgart, Germany.

British F3 driver Sam Bird enjoys his first taste of Formula One power after testing for Williams. Red Bull announce that Indian driver Karun Chandhok will test for the team at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya later in the month, while Ferrari confirm former driver Michael Schumacher will be back in action for the champions.

Williams reveal that Nico Rosberg and former tester Kazuki Nakajima will race for the team in 2008. The FIA requests that Renault appear before the World Motor Sport Council in December to answer allegations of unauthorised possession of confidential data belonging to McLaren.

Responding to the announcement, Renault admit that an engineer, who joined from McLaren in September 2006, brought with him several computer discs containing technical spreadsheets and engineering drawings. The French team, however, maintain that the information was never used to influence the design of their car.

Force India announce that former Red Bull team mates Christian Klien and Vitantoni Liuzzi will test for the squad later in the month. Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn is appointed as Honda’s new team principal. Toyota bid farewell to third driver Franck Montagny but welcome Young Driver Programme graduate Kamui Kobayashi as his replacement.

After much speculation, it is confirmed that India will host a Grand Prix from 2010. Reigning GP2 champion Timo Glock leaves BMW Sauber to join Toyota as a race driver for 2008. After he dominated the Barcelona test, Ferrari announce that Michael Schumacher will test again in Jerez.

With just under four months to go before the start of the new season, new entrants Prodrive admit they will not be able to take up their place on the 2008 grid. Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Franck Montagny are all lined up to test for Force India.

December:
Young drivers Marko Asmer and Javier Villa get the chance to sample BMW Sauber’s F1.07 during testing in Jerez. Twenty-year-old German Nico Hulkenberg, a star of this year’s Formula Three Euro Series, also makes his Formula One debut with Williams at the Spanish track.

Force India announce a major restructure of the technical operations at their Silverstone base in the UK. The key changes are the recruitment of Mark Smith and Ian Hall, who join from the Red Bull and Toyota teams respectively. Renault’s Heikki Kovalainen trades cars with recently-crowned four time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb during a special promotional event at Le Castellet in the south of France.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council decides to impose no penalty on Renault after finding the team in breach of the International Sporting Code for possessing confidential technical information belonging to McLaren. The Council concludes that there was ‘insufficient evidence to establish that the information was used in such a way as to interfere with or to have an impact on the championship’.

A day later the FIA publish a series of planned measures, designed to reduce costs within the sport. The plans, agreed by the World Motor Sport Council, include a variety of aerodynamic testing restrictions for next year.

The FIA Gala Awards take place in Monaco, with Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari’s boss Jean Todt both in attendance to collect their 2007 winners’ trophies. Others honoured include the Bahrain International Circuit, which receives the Centre of Excellence Award, and 1978 Formula One world champion Mario Andretti, who picks up the FIA Gold Medal.

Renault announce that Fernando Alonso will return to the team for the 2008 season, racing alongside Nelson Piquet Jr. Alonso’s 2007 employers McLaren issue an apology after the FIA’s report into their 2008 car concludes that leaked Ferrari data had been more widely disseminated within the team than previously thought. McLaren also promise to halt development of systems that could have been inspired by the Ferrari information.

As a result, the WMSC cancels a hearing into the report in 2008 and FIA President Max Mosley says he plans to draw a line under the whole ‘spy scandal’ affair. Ferrari accept the decision, but say they will continue with existing legal actions. Following his test earlier in the month, Nico Hulkenberg is contracted to the Williams team as their official test driver for the 2008 season.

Graham Rahal, son of ex-F1 driver and former Jaguar team principal Bobby, is announced as a driver for BMW Sauber at the team’s Pit Lane Park attraction in Las Vegas, USA. McLaren confirm that Heikki Kovalainen is to become Lewis Hamilton’s team mate for the 2008 season.