Happy New Year everyone! 2013 is finally here and in only a few weeks time the Formula 1 circus will be here too. Normally in February I am in hibernation mode; shivering, drinking tea and bemoaning the many layers of clothing that it takes to keep me from getting frostbite. The long, sweaty, summer days of the Formula 1 season seem like a distant memory and that first race in March feels a lifetime away. This year, however, is slightly different. In Melbourne evidence that the Australian Grand Prix is just around the corner is all around me and the only kind of tea I feel like drinking is of the iced variety. From the blisteringly scorching daytime temperatures to the massive banner that is being displayed outside the tourist information centre in Federation Square, there is little doubt that the start of the season is just around the corner.
Perhaps the biggest evidence that the Australian Grand Prix is almost here can be found in Albert Park. Although the Grand Prix circuit has yet to be fully constructed, grandstands have been erected and materials for gravel traps, fencing and tyre barriers have already arrived.
The paddock area has been sealed off and signs advertise the upcoming event. Part of the circuit is a fairly main road and thousands of commuters use it to travel to and from work on a daily basis. Last week, as I stood in a parking lot which will soon become the Clark chicane, I couldn't help but smile to imagine that Formula 1 cars would soon be racing along the palm-tree lined straight nearby.
I can remember waking up early in the morning and watching images of that road on TV. Melbourne seemed like a tropical paradise; brightly lit and full of bold colours. The pure blue sky and lush green grass were so clear on my screen and the Ferraris gave off a red/orange glow as they sped by. There in the damp darkness of my English living room, blurry-eyed and covered in blankets, I fell a little bit in love with Melbourne and its vivid warmth.
Walking the circuit stirred in me those emotions that I felt as a teenager , longing for summer days to return and with them my renewed hopes of a Ferrari championship. As I ventured onto the start/finish straight, I glanced up at the empty grandstands and imagined they were full of people, my heart beat faster and I realised just how excited I am for this race.
While Ferrari scrambles to make sure that this year's challenger, the F138, is competitive from its first racing lap, all I can do is sit here and await their arrival. I have missed them, it's as simple as that and above all I have missed the way my stomach tightens in those seconds before the lights go out on a Sunday afternoon. I am very ready for 2013 and even more ready for a Ferrari championship.
The following are some of my recent photos from around Albert Park. Winter is almost over and the long summer days of the Formula 1 season will be here before we know it!