So, last Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix didn't enthral fans with a shock result or thrilling racing. But it didn't have to. For fans, starved of action during months of pre-season testing and speculation, simply seeing the cars in full competitive cry again was enough to generate excitement.
Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) leads Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso (McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes) early in the 2007 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne © LAT
For once, testing times provided an accurate summary of what to expect from the early part of the 2007 season. Ferrari and McLaren led the pack as predicted, BMW and Renault were only slightly less competitive than expected, while Toyota and Super Aguri were pleasingly faster than even their fans had hoped.
This initial establishing of the order, more than the notoriously fickle Melbourne weather or the statistical likelihood of the safety car affecting the race outcome as seen in previous season openers, is what defined the Australian event this time around.
The implications of this race extend far beyond the 58 laps of the Melbourne circuit, and become a projection for what the other 16 races on the calendar hold in store. And after being pushed back to the third GP on the calendar in 2006, it was good to see Melbourne back in this customary role.