It's only three days until the first Formula One session of the year, and I'm getting just a little bit excited. There is plenty to look forward to during the 2010 season: new teams, returning champions, a brand new safety car (just me?), all sorts of things.
For only the second time since 1996, Australia won't be hosting the first race. As in 2006, Bahrain gets that honour, which is a shame as Melbourne usually throws up a good race, and I do quite enjoy getting up at early o'clock for F1. It makes it feel special as a season opener.
Anyway, Bahrain. It's been part of the calendar since 2004, and was the first race to be held in the Middle East. The facilities at the track weren't quite finished for the first race, but it went ahead anyway. Up until this year, the layout of the track had remained the same.
For 2010, an extra half a mile has been added just after turn four, bringing the total length of the circuit to just under four miles. There are a few places to overtake—the slow corners following the long straights tend to provide the best chances.
One of the most difficult things for the drivers and teams to cope with is the heat. The cars have to cope with some pretty high temperatures, with forecasts suggesting air temperature will be around 36 degrees Celsius. It wouldn't be surprising if several cars blew up during the course of the weekend.
All of the previous winners of the Bahrain GP will be present, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa taking two victories each, and Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button both winning one.
Last years race saw the two Toyota's on the front row of the grid, with Button starting in fourth. Jenson managed to overtake Sebastian Vettel on the first lap, but Lewis Hamilton had taken them both, moving from fifth to third. Button's impressive move on Lewis on the next lap moved him up a place, and once the Toyota's pitted, he was in the lead, and went on to win the race.
As it's the first race of the year and I'm doing this before practice or qualifying, this is going to be a complete guess. With it looking like there could be four teams challenging for the title in 2010, that means there are potentially eight drivers who have a realistic chance of the victory here.
1. Fernando Alonso
2. Sebastian Vettel
3. Felipe Massa
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Michael Schumacher
6. Jenson Button
7. Rubens Barrichello
8. Mark Webber
9. Nico Rosberg
10. Kamui Kobayashi
Bahrain GP on the BBC
First Practice: Friday, 12th March. 0655-0835, BBC Red Button
Second Practice: Friday, 12th March. 1055-1235, BBC Red Button
Third Practice: Saturday, 13th March. 0755-0905, BBC Red Button
Qualifying: Saturday, 13th March. 1010-1230, BBC One
Race: Sunday, 14th March. 1110-1415, BBC One