The winter has come and gone. The thawing of our lawns and hearts begins with the resonating sound of 18,000 rpm and the thunder of the grand prix from down under. The Australian city of melbourne will open the formula One season this weekend and F1 fans around the world rejoice.
The news this winter has been mixed with no less than seven drivers losing their seat and place in Formula One and no less than six world champions on the 2012 grid. The stakes are high and the winter testing has only offered a clue that Ferrari may have troubles, Red Bull may have evolved less than before and Vodafone McLaren, along with Mercedes AMG Petronas may have made progress toward the front.
Whether any of that will pan out is anyone's guess but the season will find new technical regulations banning the flatulent sound of off-throttle exhaust engine mapping, blown diffusers and the addition of a new, ugly stepped-nose design that all teams but McLaren and Sahara Force India suffer.
Like any good technical battle, the interpretation of the Sporting and Technical Regulations from the FIA is always a gamble. Accusations are already flying that Red Bull Racing have pushed the envelope too far in their creative exhaust design and that Mercedes are still playing tricks with their diffuser but those, as they say, are merely allegations.
Red Bull have been accused before and team boss Christian Horner figures the champions always get accused, that's the nature of the game.
McLaren's team boss Martin Whitmarsh shared his thoughts from Melbourne today saying that he believes the team have made progress in the winter but he wasn't prepared to suggest they looked dominant. The good news may be that he felt that no one looks dominant at the moment but this Saturday will reveal all when qualifying begins and the cars are driven in anger.
A big story in the off season was the return of Kimi Raikkonen. The "iceman" from Finland makes his return to Formula One in a series that has changed dramatically since he left two years ago and the jury is out on whether he can adapt to the new regulations, Drag Reduction System (DRS) or high-degradation tires from Pirelli.
In the end game, the the championship can be won or loss but it starts right now, this weekend in Australia.
Fri 16 March 2012
12:30 - 14:00
16:30 - 18:00
Sat 17 March 2012
14:00 - 15:00
Sun 18 March 2012