For the first time since 1969, there are no Italian Formula 1 drivers at the start of a world championship season. But that doesn't necessarily mean that 2012 will be a quiet year for Italian motor racing on the world stage.
If the organisers behind the Superstars Series have anything to say about it, this will be the year that a championship coming out of Italy will become a major player on the international touring car scene.
Before we go too far into talking about where Superstars wants to go, let's take a quick look back to where it has come from. Nine years ago the Superstars concept was born, designed to be a production-based touring car series for V8-powered cars, racing solely on Italian circuits. In 2004, under the Trofeo Nazionale Superstars banner, there were five teams and two manufacturers.
Entering 2012, things have definitely changed. It's now called the International Superstars Series, and the list of manufacturers has grown to nine. The number of household-name drivers on the entry list has steadily developed, and there are rounds scheduled in Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Hungary and even Indonesia this year.