Can't wait for the start of the season
Welcome to my first blog of the 2010 Formula 1 season - it's good to be back!
I was actually flicking through my F1 photos earlier on the laptop and saw a snap of myself, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie clambering out of a taxi in Melbourne as we arrived at Albert Park for the opening race of the 2009 season. How on earth was that a year ago?
I'll never forget that first weekend. The heightened emotions that we were all feeling as F1 made its return to the BBC were like nothing I've ever experienced before - and will certainly live with me for the rest of my career.
Hearing The Chain through my earpiece as I stood in the pit lane preparing to welcome F1's hardcore fans - and my parents, who were up at 5am for an F1 race for the first time - particularly stands out!
I've actually missed my regular blast of Fleetwood Mac, as I suspect has EJ, who never fails to do a little air-drumming as the track reaches its crescendo, while David Coulthard also allows himself a little air guitar every now and then if he's feeling especially rock and roll!
Working in F1 has a strange effect of warping time, it honestly feels like five minutes ago that we heard the tune last, in the Abu Dhabi desert.
After the race I remember we were offered some schnapps shots to celebrate the end of an incredible season. The only slight issue was that our friendly, impromptu barman had got his timings slightly wrong - we were still live on the BBC! I think EJ has enjoyed the F1 Forum enough without the added encouragement of a shot or two!
Mind you, if you crawled under a rock after the final race of 2009's surreal season, emerging only recently, you'd probably wonder what you had been drinking!
Time after time last year, either here on my blog or via my Twitter account, I enjoyed discussing with you all just how incredible last season was as it unfolded. But this year is shaping up to surpass last year's madness, and we've yet to see a car driven in anger!
People keep on asking which of the big stories I'm most excited about, and while I won't deny that a wry grin crept across my face as I heard that Kamui Kobayashi, he of the cheeky overtake, had found himself a drive - it's the return of a man 17 years his elder who has occupied my thoughts.
Will Michael Schumacher still be fast? How will he cope physically with a return top-level racing? When he goes wheel to wheel with one of F1's talented youngsters who will lift off the accelerator first?
It's actually that last question that really excites me. It was clear when we sat down with Schumacher at last year's German Grand Prix that he was missing some kind of adrenalin rush as he discussed his new passion for skydiving (which I'm sure he's shelved for now!).
However, has he really considered how much of a badge of honour it will be for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton or his former team-mate Felipe Massa to get one over the old master during the course of the season? I'm not so sure. If he returns and wins the title he'll confirm his brilliance. If he doesn't impress and slinks back to retirement, how much will his legacy be affected?
Imagine you're Hamilton, you are gunning it away from the line in Bahrain and find that you and Michael want the same piece of tarmac into the first right-hander... what would you do?
So, Schumacher is back after three years, and the Silver Arrows after considerably longer. And chatting to British fans of the sport, that's not the only return that's setting hearts a flutter - particularly those in my native Norfolk!
It really is a glorious fairytale that Mike Gascoyne, Tony Fernandes, and a band of loyal workers are helping to create with their revival of Lotus, making the return of one of the sport's most evocative names a reality.
And if Lotus achieve that incredible challenge of scoring points in 2010, part of the credit can go to a man I know quite well - my little brother!
Tom (even taller but annoyingly much thinner than me!) works at the school in Norwich where we both studied our A levels, but he loves cars, especially working on his long-term restoration of a Ford Prefect in his garage.
I took Tom to watch Norwich City, along with Gascoyne, just after Christmas and Tom mentioned how much he loves F1. Well, it seems Mike saw an opportunity to benefit both parties. A couple of weeks later I was bumbling up the A11 on the way to visit the folks when I swung into the car park of the Lotus factory in the picturesque village of Hingham.
I chatted to the chief operating officer, met a few of the guys there who are clearly relishing the challenge ahead, then wandered down to the race bay... and there was my brother!
Tom was spending his week's half-term holiday doing some Lotus F1 work experience and was busy wearing a dust mask and protective goggles while making a fan to help cool the cars radiators at the track. Unbelievable.
He was in his element but I've told him if I see a cooling fan not working at one of the races I'll know which he made! Only joking, Tom!
I think that story sums up just how incredible this sport is shaping up to be in 2010.
From the most famous driver of all returning to the track in a blaze of publicity and about to roll back the years in front of millions to my little bro' doing his bit to help a team that have galvanised an entire county around them as they bid to do justice to the brilliance of the legendary Team Lotus founder Colin Chapman.
I can't wait for lights out on 14 March in Bahrain. I'll be especially intrigued to see how DC reacts to the return of a man who was his nemesis for so long and I'm sure EJ will remind us (quite a bit!) that he gave Michael his first F1 break.
I'm so delighted to be sharing the pit lanes of the world with Eddie and David once more, and the three of us have had plenty of meetings about how we can make our coverage this year the best you've ever seen. It's certainly going to be a season worthy of our efforts!
Don't forget that I'll be sending behind-the-scenes photos and tweeting regularly from every race too so follow me on Twitter too.