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Vodafone McLaren

The 2006 Championship winner - the youngest ever – Fernando Alonso jumped ship to McLaren taking with him the coveted No 1 nose to a team who had, in 2006, their worst season in many years. The driver pairing of Fernando and F1 rookie Lewis Hamilton form one of the youngest driver line-ups in the history of the sport and the new car – the MP4-22  - has been quick from first testing unlike some previous years.

Clearly Alonso, now without a Schumacher challenge, will surely be the class of the field; he’s the most complete driver out there, focussed, fast, analytical and fearless and will probably be in the running for back to back titles if the car proves good enough and reliable.

Partner Lewis Hamilton will upset many established drivers – he’s already doing so in testing - nurtured by McLaren since his boyhood karting days he has won everything he has attempted and is proving just as adept in an F1 car. While he has much to learn in 2007, new circuits etc, I’ve watched him develop over many years and believe he will be quick and adventurous everywhere, podiums are quite possible in his first year.

Ron Dennis, Team boss of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group:“In Fernando and Lewis we have two of the most exciting and talented drivers in Formula 1. They both have great potential to inspire others to push hard to achieve their dreams."

As the testing progresses the McLarens are looking the class of the field but already they are cautioning there’s a long way to go yet.


ING Renault

Winners of consecutive world championships in 2005 and 2006 the newly renamed ING Renault F1 move Italian Giancarlo Fisichella to No1 status with Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen as partner.

I interviewed the young Finn last year and was impressed by both his pace and his attitude and he could seriously embarrass his well established team mate in 2007 if he settles into the car quickly enough. Both drivers can be race winners and the new R27 F1 car is quite striking and has proved quick in testing.

"Double championship success in 2005 and 2006 has earned Renault its status as a major force in Formula 1" Renault F1 Team President Alain Dassas asserted at the car’s launch. "We must now live up to that reputation. But on track, our challenge will remain the same: we will be asking our technical teams and drivers to make Renault a championship contender in 2007."

For Fisichella 2007 will be his third year with the team – and the opportunity to deliver on the promise glimpsed during the previous two seasons – or find a new job for 2008. "The team has shown confidence in me for the new season, and I am determined to repay that in the best way possible, out on track."

"This is no year of transition for the ING Renault F1 Team, " emphasised Managing Director Flavio Briatore. "We have always said that the team is what matters, and that success comes from the team spirit that unites us. 2007 is a fantastic opportunity to prove exactly that. We believe in our choices, and we are confident that they will help us achieve more success in 2007."

Article © 2007 Graham Benge

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