Toyota's decision to officially unveil its new TF109 F1 contender online in the middle of January is in tune with the economic realities of the moment.

This low-key approach is a well judged signal at the start of a season in which we will be fortunate to have every team we can muster turning out on the grid. 

When 22 cars roll onto the grid for the start of the Australian GP at the end of March, I suspect there will be an audible sigh of relief rippling along the pit lane.

You might be forgiven for thinking that F1 will face a mighty commercial test in 2009. There will obviously be worries that such a self-contained item on a motor manufacturer's balance sheet might be the easiest to wipe away with a stroke of a red pen.

Happily there is no obvious indication that anybody is about to call time on their F1 involvement even though there is clearly much nervousness spinning around the sport at present.

For British fans, the emergence of Lewis Hamilton as F1's youngest world champion could not have been more auspiciously timed. The sense of anticipation riding with him and his McLaren into the new season will do much to dispel the winter blues, whether climatic or commercial.

On a personal note, I well recall the economic crisis over the winter of 1973-1974. That culminated in the three-day week, job losses and cuts in both electricity and gas supplies. Wearing our overcoats in a freezing editorial office while putting Motoring News to bed was a mind-numbing exercise. We all thought the world would change forever. But F1 came bursting back into life at the start of 1974 and never looked back.

So fingers crossed.