F1 fans are beginning to get excited about the new season that kicks off in the middle of March, and while some of the internet sites seem to think they know who is going to be winning this year, in the pit lane the story is rather different.

"No-one is massively standing out," says Jenson Button. 

In Barcelona we had the odd situation in which Nico Rosberg said that Mercedes can win this year, while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton said on the same day that the team is not ready for success. Figure that out!

What is quite interesting is that in the eight days of testing that have taken place in the course of February, at the Jerez and Barcelona circuits in Spain, there have been eight different drivers who have set the fastest times each day. The only pattern is that the eight have come from four teams: McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes-Benz.

Red Bull Racing, which has won both F1 titles for the last three years, has not been quickest on any single day of testing, and yet the team does not seem to be in any sort of panic. If one looks at the list of drivers who have been second fastest on each of the eight days, one finds Red Bull drivers twice, Force India twice and even Sauber.

Compare this list to the finishing order in the Constructors' Championship of 2012 and you can see that the same teams ranked first to seventh in the Constructors' title: Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes, Sauber and Force India.

It is quite possible that we will find out that nothing much has changed when the F1 circus turns up in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. It might even be that we have a sequence of races with different winners, as happened at the start of last year.

Stateside 

Formula 1 has always been rather forgiving of circuits in countries that are needed to give the sport its global flavour. The tracks in Canada and Brazil have very poor quality facilities compared to all the fancy venues in Asia and the Middle East, but Bernie Ecclestone has not been able to strong arm the Canadians and the Brazilians into doing a better job - because they know that he needs them as much as they need him.

There was a similar problem for many years with Monaco before finally the Monégasques were bamboozled into spending some money.

With F1 now looking at a growth spurt in the Americas, both Canada and Brazil probably need to buck up their ideas. There is increasing noise from Mexico City about the revival of the F1 track there, now that there are two Mexicans in Grand Prix racing.

There are plans too for a second US race, this one being in New York City (or at least that is how it will look on TV, even if the race track is actually in New Jersey). And there is even mumbling about the Long Beach Grand Prix switching from IndyCar back to Formula 1, if the money can be found.

IndyCar is not the draw it used to be, and while the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach has been trying to bolster crowd numbers by adding the American Le Mans Series, drifting and even the Robby Gordon Stadium Super Trucks off-road series to the programme, there are still questions about whether it might be more successful if the city dug deep and paid for F1. 

The goal of the IndyCar race has long been to fill the city's hotels and restaurants, and to use TV to promote Long Beach as a holiday destination. F1 would cost a lot more money, but it would spread the word far wider than IndyCar can do.

In the meantime the folk of Montreal are scrabbling to figure out how to raise the $40 million that they need to upgrade the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to F1 standards.