A 4am alarm call last Sunday meant only one thing. Time to head to the airport. As far as air miles are concerned, January is Formula 1's quietest month. The holidays are over, but testing has yet to commence. Occasionally, there is the odd new car launch that takes you overseas in January - but not always by plane.
One year Toyota delivered a brand new Lexus to my front door with instructions to follow the sat nav to the pre-programmed destination. The route went via the Channel Tunnel to the quiet French commune of Valenciennes, where the assembly line for the Toyota Yaris is based. We politely applauded when Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli removed a dust sheet to unveil a car that looked exactly like the car from the year before.
I still have a copy of a book they handed out called The Toyota Way. It sets out the principles of management for its car production system and it continues to collect dust, having not been touched in the 12 years since it was slotted into the bookshelf the night I drove back from France.