OK, it’s two weeks late due to unexpected events in Bahrain, and it’s going to have a tough time beating last year’s shenanigans. But finally, this year’s F1 season is upon us.
And so, in a gift to all TopGear.commers, we popped across the hall to visit our colleagues at BBC Sport and asked them to preview the coming season just for you.
Watch the video below to see what Jake Humphrey, Anthony Davidson, Lee McKenzie and Ted Kravitz are predicting for 2011, their highlights from last year, and exactly how they plan on dealing with a rested and invigorated Eddie Jordan…
TopGear.com also put some of your questions to the new commentary team Martin Brundle and David Coulthard a few weeks back. If you missed the interview, you can watch it right here.
And while we ramp up to Friday’s practice in Melbourne, here’s some other stuff that’s been happening…
Australian GP to be axed?
With just days to go before the start of this year’s F1 season, Bernie Ecclestone has hinted at the Australian GP making way for another country.
“We are probably going to have to drop two races to fit in Austin and Russia,’ he told The Express. ‘Australia are saying they don’t want a race. If Australia want to go, they can go.”
He also reckons there should be fewer teams in F1, telling Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo that “12 teams is too much… 10 is enough”.
Kubica on crutches ‘in a few weeks’
Injured Lotus-Renault GP driver Robert Kubica – who severely damaged his right forearm in a rally accident earlier this year – could be walking around on crutches within the next few weeks, according to doctors.
McLaren banking on big changes
McLaren is hoping ‘dramatic changes’ made to the MP4-26 will make it more than a second faster after it was recorded as the least reliable car of pre-season. The Woking team’s 2011 contender has covered the lowest distance during testing, less than half completed by Ferrari.
The changes include a completely redesigned floor and exhaust system. “It isn’t a fundamentally bad car,” explains team principal Martin Whitmarsh, “but we need to unlock its exhaust blowing potential.”
Hamilton: Red Bull just ‘a drinks company’
McLaren ace Lewis Hamilton has branded Red Bull just “a drinks company”, saying: “For many, many years it has been McLaren and Ferrari at the front. It’s a drinks company versus McLaren/Ferrari history.”
But despite his car’s poor performance, Hamilton said: “I’m ready, and when the car is ready I will be at the front and I will win races”.
Webber hints at staying in F1 beyond 2011
Red Bull driver Mark Webber has revealed that he is no mood to hang up his helmet come the end of the season.
The 34-year-old – who remains on a year-to-year contract – said: “I could see myself doing this a bit longer, I’m really hungry for it again.”
Pirelli reveals new tyre markings
And in the one you’ve all been waiting for, this year’s new tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed its colour codes for the season:
Intermediate: light blue
See you on Friday!