2013 AUSTRALIAN F1 GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
It seems like forever since the cars parked up in Brazil, but we've had one of the shortest breaks in Formula 1 history.
Gone this year is HRT, or Hispania, whose ignominious end also saw the departure of Pedro de la Rosa to Ferrari's lengthy test bench.
This is the first year since HRT joined the sport that we haven't had cars still being built on the morning of the race...
Despite the cars looking fundamentally the same, with the exception of the super-slim hipped Saubers, there are several new faces to look out for.
Poor Heikki Kovalainen got the heave-ho from Caterham in favour of Giedo van de Garde, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez replace Kobayashi and Perez at Sauber and fast-Finn Valtteri Bottas replaces Bruno Senna at Williams.
Red Bull remains the race favourite for Melbourne, despite a typically cagey series of test sessions in Europe.
McLaren and Ferrari too, look strong, so expect the usual jostling between these teams, but either Mercedes or Williams could spring a surprise.
The weather, too, will play a huge part. It's an old cliche, but rain is the great leveller in this sport, and will see canny teams like Force India and Sauber rocket forward into contention.
If it stays clear and the Bulls deliver as expected, there should be two Red Bull drivers on the podium with a silver car of some description - Mercedes or McLaren - or a red Ferrari.
While that's a wide open prediction, it says something about the current state of Formula 1: anything could happen.
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