Australian GP preview

It’s nearly upon us. Even with all the winter testing and new regulations excitement, it’s felt like a long time since Felipe Massa took the chequered flag in Brazil last year.

So we arrive at Melbourne for the opening round not a moment too soon. In the previous eleven seasons, eight drivers who have won this race went on to claim the World Championship crown that year – this is an incredibly important venue for drivers and teams alike to make statements of intent.

Being the first race of the season, drivers arrive in Melbourne eager to get down to business – Brawn’s Jenson Button got out there last Saturday – and we’re eager to see who’s actually where. The hours to Saturday’s qualifying will slowly tick by.

Melbourne has hosted the opening round since 1996, when Martin Brundle – now part of the BBC Sport commentary team – christened the track with a huge crash on lap one. Local Oz fans still call Turn 3 ‘Brundle Corner’ to this day.

Lewis Hamilton would have been hoping to steer clear of such drama and repeat his great start to the season that he had here last year – when he put his McLaren MP4-23 on pole ahead of BMW’s Robert Kubica – but with McLaren’s testing revealing problems with downforce, even Hamilton himself has exclaimed they’ll be lucky just to get one point.

It’s Brawn that have grabbed all the pre-season headlines in the last few weeks, and Jenson’s said he can’t wait to just get on with it. (It’s been a long time since he’s had so much press interest building up to a race.)

And now that Brawn et al have been cleared to race this weekend, he’s got to be in for a shot at the win. (It’s been a long time since anyone’s written that about him.)

Now all we have to do is to wait for 6am on Saturday for it all to begin. Personally, I’m not going to sleep all that well tomorrow night.

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