F1 Update

INDIANAPOLIS – New driver pairings, a talented crop of rookie drivers and new rules, including "Fan Friendly Fridays," are among the changes that will create a different look and add excitement and intrigue to the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship season that includes the United States Grand Prix on June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Each of the top three teams in 2006 – Renault, Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes – has a different driver lineup in 2007.

Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso has left Renault to join McLaren-Mercedes this year. He partners rookie Lewis Hamilton, who will be the first ever driver with African-Caribbean heritage to race in F1.

Rookie Heikki Kovalainen has been promoted from his testing role to replace Alonso as Giancarlo Fisichella's teammate at Renault.

Former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen has signed with Ferrari. He takes over from seven-time World Champion and five-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher, who retired after a stellar, record-setting career.

Raikkonen's teammate is Felipe Massa, who is back at Ferrari for a second season. Massa scored the first two F1 victories of his career in 2006, and he earned five other podium finishes, including a second place at Indianapolis.

While no longer racing, Schumacher will remain closely involved with Ferrari as a consultant for the race team and the sports car divisions.

Another new driving pairing sees Mark Webber leaving Williams after two seasons to race for Red Bull alongside David Coulthard.

New faces: The 2007 rookie class contains three drivers: Britain's Hamilton, Finland's Kovalainen and Germany's Adrian Sutil. The latter will drive for the Spyker team, formerly Midland, as Christijan Albers' teammate.

While not rookies, there are several more "new" faces in the lineup.

Robert Kubica, Poland's first F1 driver, who raced in the final six Grands Prix of 2006, returns for a full season with BMW Sauber in 2007 with Nick Heidfeld.

While Kubica will be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time this year, another "new" face will be back at the Brickyard for a second time.

Austria's Alexander Wurz competed in 52 F1 races between 1997 and 2000, including the 2000 United States Grand Prix, for Benetton. In the following years, he worked as a test driver for McLaren and Williams and raced in one Grand Prix. This year he returns to racing full-time with Williams-Toyota alongside Nico Rosberg, back with the team for a second season.

Britain's Anthony Davidson is another test driver who will compete in all the races this season. Formerly a tester for Honda, Davidson has started three Grands Prix. He will drive for the Super Aguri F1 Team with Takuma Sato.

Fan Friendly Fridays: Fans attending the Friday F1 practice sessions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 15 and on other Grand Prix weekends will see a lot more on-track action than in the past.

The two one-hour open practice sessions Fridays have been replaced by two 90-minute sessions.

Unlike the past two years, the rule that states that a driver must use the same engine for two complete Grand Prix weekends will not apply to Fridays. Since the drivers no longer must conserve their engines on Fridays, they will turn many more laps on the track.

In addition, the number of dry weather tires allotted to a driver during an event has been increased from 28 to 40, and this also will add more track action on Fridays.

The teams may run two drivers in each of the Friday practice sessions, and they can be either the nominated race drivers or a reserve/test driver.

Bridgestone stands alone: Following the withdrawal of Michelin, Bridgestone will supply all the teams with tires from 2007 through 2010.

To slow the cars for safety reasons, the tire compounds will be harder in 2007, and this should result in the cars initially being about two seconds per lap slower than last year.

Each team will be supplied with identical specifications and quantities of tires during the racing season. On a Grand Prix weekend, drivers will have a choice of "hard" and "soft" compound dry weather tires, and wet weather tires and extreme wet weather tires.

Having all the cars on the same tires will create a more level playing field, and this should lead to even closer competition on the track.

New engine rules: The engine specifications used by the teams in December 2006 will be frozen in 2007, with only a limited amount of modifications and updates permitted. Engines will be limited to a maximum of 19,000 rpm.

Technical changes: Each car will be fitted with a cockpit GPS system, which will use a series of colored lights to warn drivers of track conditions, such as a yellow light to indicate danger ahead. This also will allow race officials to know exactly where each car is on the track at all times.

The cars also will be fitted with a new accident severity indicator to indicate the impact forces of an accident to medical rescue crews.

New engine partners: Three teams have switched engine partners for 2007: Williams from Cosworth to Toyota, Red Bull Racing from Ferrari to Renault, and Scuderia Toro Rosso from Cosworth to Ferrari.

Less testing: The teams have unanimously agreed to adapt the 2008 testing restrictions in 2007. This limits each team to an annual limit of 30,000 km (18,640 miles). In the past, the big teams each have tested about 50,000 km (31,685 miles) per year.

2007 USGP tickets: Reserved Race Day and three-day "Season Passes" for the 2007 United States Grand Prix, June 15-17, are on sale to all customers.

Ticket information can be found any time at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-4639 or (317) 492-6700. Ticket Office hours are from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.

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