Excitement builds as season approaches
The weekend's just around the corner and it's my last one here in the UK before the season starts.
Most of the BBC production team fly out next Sunday to Melbourne and then the prep really cranks up a gear for the first race.
I can't believe how quickly my inaugural season has rolled around. I was at Williams F1 on Thursday chatting to Sir Frank's daughter Claire and she was giving me tips on how to avoid piling on the weight when travelling the globe. I declined the offer of a regular Friday night run around each circuit... at least until I've built up my fitness a little!
It honestly feels like two minutes since I was offered the job and here I am working out what I need to pack. Incidentally, I've just bought a new laptop, so I can wirelessly connect to you lot no matter which hotel/airport/circuit I am at and also so I can Skype the wife - a technology that's all new to me but apparently brilliant.
Thanks for your comments for the last blog by the way, I enjoyed reading about all your early automotive experiences. I don't think anyone forgets their first car. Oh, and connors-75 I only wish I did have Cat's number to pass on.
Anyway, there have been stacks of people leaving messages along the lines of how excited they are about this. As much I'd love to believe it's all about the BBC, the departure of those untimely ads and the return of The Chain, it's obviously about much more than just that.
We shouldn't underestimate how much people are keen to have The Chain kicking off every Grand Prix. I watched the new opening titles resplendent with that tune this week - I wish I could reveal what they're like but if I did there may be someone else introducing the first race. They're great, though - fast-paced, slick and certainly very different to what's gone before.
I think we're all excited because the sport is promising a greater nine months that ever before.
Not only did last season finish with a jaw-dropping climax that would have been too far-fetched for a Hollywood blockbuster, but it also delivered our first British world champion in 12 years.
That set the tone for renewed public interest in a sport that's keen to deliver an even more eye-catching spectacle. The new regulations have had hardcore fans speculating, investigating and debating all winter long. And let's remember that these changes weren't a reaction to a problem in the sport; they were proactive steps taken by all involved to improve the show - which is ultimately what we all want.
Then there was Honda. Against a backdrop of global doom they looked like the first victim of many as internet message boards buzzed with "who's next?" chatter. But like a phoenix from, erm, Brackley, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are back in the game and the team will be on the grid in Melbourne.
Precisely where will Brawn's boys be, though? Coughing on Force India's fumes? Battling Red Bull for a place on the podium? Well, after the remarkable events of the past few days in Barcelona perhaps they'll both be lapping the third-placed like the Williams-Honda circa 1986.
To see a team that might not have been in existence performing such miracles has been stupefying. Add to this heady mix the news that the McLarens are apparently struggling for grip and posting distinctly average times, and we've got another almost unbelievable chapter in what's becoming an amazing period for the sport.
It's great Brawn GP have joined Williams as a true independent in the grid and it's commendable that the regulation changes that have had engineers from Milan to Milton Keynes getting three hours' sleep a night all winter.
It's impossible to know if Lewis Hamilton, the reigning champion, does have a car that will struggle this season or if McLaren do what we all suspect them to and arrive in Melbourne looking confident and fast. And it's a huge relief that the worst news of the winter has become the biggest fairytale of all.
Just like you all, I enter a new season of F1 with more anticipation and excitement than ever. And I think it's down to a lot more than just because I'm going to be there. Yes, the BBC is delighted to be back in the game but it's really all about the timing.
2009 - a vintage year? I'd love to hear your thoughts.