The 2013 F1 World Championship will roar into action this weekend when the new season starts in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix.
Less than four months since the end of a thrilling 2012 season that saw Sebastian Vettel claim his third world crown, the grid of 2013 will assemble for the first race of what promises to be another enthralling nine months.
Much of the focus falls on Lewis Hamilton’s eagerly-anticipated debut season with the Brackley-based Mercedes-Benz team.
Hamilton made a high profile switch from McLaren to Mercedes as the end of last season to join Nico Rosberg following the retirement of seven-time world champion, Michael Schumacher.
Early indications are that the Mercedes duo are capable of performing well with their new W04 car. Hamilton and Rosberg, who won the Chinese Grand Prix last year, have shown pace during pre-season tests in Spain and hopes are high in the team as staff arrived in Australia earlier this week.
The British driver said: “Everyone at Mercedes wants to do well. We feel the car has made great progress during the time it has been running and both Nico and I want to do well for the team and our supporters.”
Also representing the Advertiser & Review region are Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil for the Sahara Force India team based in Silverstone.
Young Scot di Resta is highly-rated in F1 circles and plenty of eyes will focus on him this year while Sutil rejoins the team after missing out last season.
Sutil said: “I feel I am ready for F1 again. I didn’t enjoy being away from the action last year and I believe that the team can compete for top six finishes on a regular basis.”
The part-Bicester based Toro Rosso will also be on the grid with Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne and Australian Daniel Ricciardo at the wheel.
Ahead of his home Grand Prix, Ricciardo said: “I am really looking forward to starting the season with my home race in Australia. It is a great way to start the year and I obviously want to do well.”