Gentlemen, start your engines: F1 season is here

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If last season was a wee bit boring for everyone, except Sebastian Vettel, the new Formula One season promises to be quite intriguing.

It’s been a long hard winter for all the teams, especially for McLaren and Ferrari, who need to make inroads into Red Bull’s competitiveness in the early part of the season to give them any chance of silverware.

Welcome to the much anticipated 2012 F1 season, one in which is key for the sports future.

Melbourne is the first stop once again for the teams, and once again Bernie is playing the trump card about this races future.

“Night race or no race” says a belligerent old fart. Surely with the massive push into Asia over the past couple of years (Korea, Singapore and India) race times should be appropriate to the Asian audience?

After all, India and China make up 40% of the world’s population. How much does Europe have? Not that much.

From a Victorian government stand point, losing $50 million a year isn’t exactly profitable, is it? It begs the question; after the 2015 race, when the contract runs out, will Australia have a viable race track in which it could hold a F1 race?

Eastern Creek in Sydney’s west is getting a track update, but the pit facilities would need a major upgrade, as would the famous Bathurst circuit.

Although Bathurst would be quite a venue to see F1′s cars go around, the lack of passing would make the race more dull than that of Cataluña or Valencia. It will be interesting to see what comes up over this issue in the next couple of days.

This year, the calendar is evidence of an attempt to cement a place in the American market. No more Indianapolis, with its no-passable banked turns and its horribly boring infield; we are off to a new circuit in Austin , Texas. If they get it prepared in time, that is.

Its a step away from the Asian push, but the sport needs to be placed into another big economy to wave off any more fears of economic struggle.

Will it work? If Austin wasn’t populated with a bunch of NASCAR rednecks then we could be in for a good event

Marussia and HRT look at their best again in the pre-season testing. Yet I see them struggling to keep with the pace of the Caterham car, which in testing has worked quite well.

There is no more Trulli at Caterham, but Kovalainen is now pared with Vitaly Petrov, who is only really in F1 due to his financial superiority. Caterham impressed last year, especially Kovalainen.

After a couple of years of underachieving at McLaren, he has warmed of the task of being the first driver. He had a phenomenal season last year. For him and Caterham, his work last year has laid the platform for points this year.

On a driver front, sanity has thankfully prevailed and Hulkenberg will have a drive this year. After sitting out last year reliving his pole from Interlagos in 2010 he is back in F1 at Force India, alongside the very talented Scotsman Paul Di Resta.

Bruno Senna has moved from Renault to the now even slower Williams, but the biggest news of the drivers this year goes to the man known as the “Iceman”, Kimi Raikkonen.

The man with wonderful people skills is back and raring for success, or so we all presume. A major talking point will be whether he has the desire to be at the top of the sport once again. For a man who is emotionless pretty much all the time, that is going to be pretty hard to read.

Now we are all set for this season.

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