The 2007 season is over, and you may be wondering what youíre going to do for the next four or five months, until the racing starts again. Donít worry, though, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Firstly, we are still waiting for the McLaren appeal against BMW and Williams to be heard, so technically this season hasnít quite finished yet. Once that is resolved and out of the way, we can start looking ahead. November and December hold two key test sessions. Teams will be starting to think about the new regulations for 2008, which include four-race gearboxes, no traction control, and a single ECU supplier (we will look at these in more detail in a future article). The gearboxes encourage reliability, the traction control change encourages driver skill, but the ECU is the biggest change. It affects some fundamental parts of the car, and means the winter tests are very important.
Also, before this year is out, the so-called ďsillyĒ season will start. This is where all the teams start announcing their drivers and contracts. It usually happens before the racing is over, but this year everything is resting on Fernando Alonso. His unhappiness in McLaren has fuelled speculation that he will be leaving the team despite a contract for next season. Until team principals know where he will end up, a lot of them are waiting to announce their own driver line up. Itís not just the front men, either, teams often find some of their technical and engineering staff deciding life will be better at another team. Hopefully, we will also find out what Ross Brawn will be doing, after his year off from Ferrari.
Once Christmas is out the way, the teams begin to launch their new cars, either in small press and invitation only gatherings, or enormous street parties with demonstrations and music and fireworks. Either way, thereís plenty to look at on the cars Ė what has changed and what development has taken place. McLarenís 2008 car will also be subject to an external investigation, to ensure no Ferrari intelligence has been used in itís build.
More testing will take place in the new year, and then there is maybe a quiet month to rest, before the season starts properly. Whilst you may think it seems like an awfully long time until we see those cars lined up on the grid again, there is still plenty to keep your eye on. Itís never a quiet time in Formula 1!