A new season begins this weekend in Bahrain, and there's a lot of unanswered questions that will be asked of teams, cars and drivers.
I can't remember the last time there was so much rumour, speculation and unknowns going into the opening round as there is right now. At the end of Sunday night there'll be someone giving it, "I told you so" and others shrugging, "We didn't optimise our car".
HOW THE LAND LIES
In terms of performance I'd rather wait until the chequered flag flies than make any rash predictions based on testing. I know from personal experience that you can drive your car one day and it feels great, and then the next day you just can't find the right balance.
As a rule we can say that last year's spread of the field being covered by just over a second will be much wider with the new outfits coming in. Having said that, I'm confident that the big four teams have remained within half a second of each other.
We should see some close racing at the front between Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes, and the new combinations in those teams will be fascinating to monitor too - apart from Nico Rosberg, we've got proven winners in all those teams. An exciting prospect.
FASCINATING TYRE STRATEGY
How will this play-out with 160kg of fuel and narrower front tyres? The refuelling ban has produced a big variable, with increased loads over a race distance. The preferred strategy is to run the faster option tyre in qualifying, but you then have to start on that.
You might start up front, but you're going to take a bigger hit with the energy required from a car starting on full tanks until the first pitstop, where you can use the prime tyre for the rest of the race. How will that work out, in terms of graining? You might see teams forsaking qualifying performance to start on the prime tyre, and use the option at the end to sprint to the line.
WILL THE SCHU FIT?
He's been keeping fit, karting and bike racing, but how will Michael Schumacher react to that run down to the first corner? It should be instinctive, but he's not done that for three years. It should be ingrained in his cerebellum, but if he starts thinking things like, "there's a rookie driver behind me who's never driven with full tanks'~ then he risks taking his eye off the ball, i.e. what's in front.
NEW TEAMS, FRESH DANGER?
Some of my BBC colleagues have stated that the new teams should be given time and only judged from Barcelona onwards. That's very public-spirited of them, but I'll borrow this line from Mark Webber: F1 is not a finishing school. You're either capable, or you shouldn't be out there.
Eddie the Eagle got the public's sympathy for trying hard at the Olympics, but, sorry, he was out of his depth. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and it's all about achieving and raising the bar. If any of those guys can't put in a respectable performance, and I'm thinking back to Lola in 1997 here, then frankly it's quite dangerous. I don't want to beat up on the new teams, but this isn't a charity, this is F1 racing.
I'm especially concerned that HRT can go to a GP without testing its car on a track. A new team, car and drivers going out for the first time in Friday morning free practice?
What if the car develops fuel surge in a fast corner, with someone up their chuff?
I once tested a car with an ECU that kept resetting itself from time to time. I very eloquently told my electronics guy that if it did it in a fast corner, and caused a huge accident, then I'd extract his black box from the wreck of the car, return to the pits and shove up it his arse!
This is serious business; I can't wait for it to get started.
David's column is also published in the latest digital edition of AUTOSPORT magazine along with a fascinating assessment of the rivalry between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton and much, much more.
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