The 2010 F1 season starts today! A three day official test kicks off this morning at the old Valencia circuit to be followed by stints at Jerez (10-13 February and 17-20 February) and finally Barcelona(25-28 February).
It’s going to be an electrifying year. Truly Mercedes today officially unveiled their W01 in preparation for Michael Schumacher’s first serious tilt in a contemporary, state-of-the-art Grand Prix car since 2006, the long-awaited new Williams-Cosworth will break cover in the hands of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg and young Vitaly Petrov – runner-up to Hulkenberg in last year’s GP2 championship – will become the first ever Russian F1 driver when he takes to the track in the new Renault R30.
Petrov’s presence on the grid is surely calculated to accelerate the possibility of a Russian Grand Prix soon being added to the schedule. Bernie Ecclestone has been talking to various potential promoters in both Moscow and St Petersberg over the past few years and Petrov is determined to play his part in being a catalyst to make the big event happen .
"This is what I tried to do a long time ago, so when I was driving in GP2 I always tried to get the TV and newspapers to say 'come on, we're Russia, we're a big country, we must have a Formula One grand prix. It has to be,'" he said. "So now I'm here maybe they'll wake up and try to do something."
He also hopes more Russian companies will become involved in the sport. Although Petrov is believed to have substantial sponsorship behind him, he said it had all been raised via family and management connections.
Asked for his views as to whether he felt major Russian sponsorship was likely to follow him into the sport, Petrov replied: "They must now, they must wake up because we came here without any sponsors, without any help to be in Formula One - with just my father, my manager and my father's friends. Nobody else. Now they will see us in Formula One and that will change something."
Yet amidst all the excitement of new faces in F1 places, Valencia today will be the scene of one man’s personal and very touching victory over adversity. Felipe Massa, now hopefully as fresh as a daisy after making a remarkable recovery from those dreadful head injuries sustained in Hungary last year, will be back in a Ferrari F1 car ready to take on the world.
Of all the personal triumphs represented by the start of a new world championship season, as far as 2010 is concerned, this one of surely the greatest.