Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The race calendar for 2007 stands at 17 races, and has some subtle changes from the previous few years. There are no new race tracks for 2007, although the Japanese Grand Prix returns to the Fuji track after a gap of thirty years. Germany also no longer has two races, with the European race being dropped this season. Hereís a quick guide to the host nations this year.
Australia - Last year, Melbourne was hosting the Commenwealth Games at the same time as the season opener, so the track was relegated to third place on the calendar. This year it is back as the season opener and the truth about those testing times will finally be understood.
Malaysia - The driverís often struggle at Sepang because it is hot and itís humid, and itís hard work. But the track offers plenty of interest and overtaking opportunities due to the wide nature of the surface. The first corner is also particularly tricky with drivers having to turn 180 degrees, so watch out for the start!
Bahrain - Bahrain has been host to a Grand Prix race for three years and this will be its fourth. The track is notorious for the modern surroundings in the middle of the desert. Teams often struggle with dust and sand on the track, that gets into the cars and causes all manner of engineering problems.
Spain - Barcelona is one of the major testing tracks, so the drivers are very familiar with the twists and turns on the Spanish track. However, familiarity breeds contempt and the track has very little to make it stand out from some of the others. In recent years, itís been the norm to see the stands laden in blue flags for local champ Alonso, but now he has gone to McLaren that could all change.
Monaco - The most glamorous and expensive circuit on the calendar, Monaco is a street circuit notable for celebrity visitors. The track looks tricky from above, because of the tight corners and narrow lines, but the drivers are not as tested as they are on others.
Canada - This race track is named after Gilles Villeneuve, a prominent racing driver from years gone by. The track stands out for more than its history though, as it is on an island, with a lake in the middle. The composition of the race is mostly acceleration and then heavy braking, so itís tough on the cars.
US - No one can think of the US Grand Prix without the catastrophe that was 2005 (where only six cars started the race), however last year really helped to make amends. The problem corner is part of the oval for Speedway racing, rather than the delicacy of F1 cars.
France - The French Grand Prix is known as the most technical track on the circuit. Itís challenging and requires real dedication for the garage personnel as well as the drivers. The track is hidden away in the depths of France and struggles with ticket sales, and the drivers bemoan the lack of hotels. Despite that, last year, it had more visitors than ever.
Make sure you check out part two for the second half of the calendar, including Britain, Turkey and China.