The va-va-voom of the season opener at the Australian Grand Prix is around the corner and the guessing game has begun over who is going to - if that really turns out to be the case - stop the high-flying Sebastian Vettel.
The German has been the champion for the last two years but he is not as endearing to the public as the previous champions of the past have been. People still want the champions to come from Ferrari or McLaren, who make up the backbone of the sport.
Red Bull are the nouveau riche and even though they have been the best team of late, all they have gained is little praise and profound jealousy.
The German has been the champion for the last two years but he is not as endearing to the public as the previous champions.
If you thought the previous season was exciting, be prepared for an even more exciting season this time around. There are six world champions on the grid, the latest entrant being Kimi Raikkonen, who returns to Formula One after two years into the hibernation of the World Rally Championship.
The Finn has just one championship to his name that he won with Ferrari in 2007, but his popularity across the world matches that of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, now with Mercedes.
Raikkonen’s new team Lotus have been very impressive in the pre-season tests, and if the tests are any real indication of a car’s performance over the entire season, trust Raikkonen to win over more fans.
In the first four-day pre-season testing at Jerez in early February, Raikkonnen topped the timesheets against all expectations on the opening day.
In the final four-day testing at Barcelona this month, he again set the fastest time on the last day after his team-mate Romain Grosjean beat the rest for the first two days.
Clearly, Lotus look in tremendous shape and with capable drivers like Raikkonen and Grosjean behind the wheel, they look to be the team to watch out for.
Apart from Lotus, the threat to Vettel also comes from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and his own Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.
Alonso, believed by many to be the best driver on the grid right now, is expected to do better than the last season but his championship chances do not shine that bright. The Ferrari car has definitely improved in leaps and bounds but, according to their own confession, the improvement hasn’t been up to their expectations.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who won the championship in 2008, is another driver who can run Vettel close. The last season has been pretty thorny for the Brit as his feckless attitude on the track landed him in verbal duels with many drivers, who accused him of driving too recklessly.
But it’s another season and there is no denying that he has got all the things needed to repeat his heroics of 2008. The question is has the McLaren car improved to the extent where it can boost Hamilton’s chances? The pre-season testing has been quite encouraging for them but as we all know one can never trust what happens in there.
Hamilton's teammate, Jenson Button is another very good driver and is capable of going all the way.
Schumacher is not in the title frame but he can be expected to get a few podiums. You can count him out as a title contender but you can’t keep him out of the spotlight. He is still the people’s champion.
Webber is in the hunt for the simple reason that he also drives a Red Bull, the best car right now. At present he is playing second fiddle to Vettel, but a good start to the season can turn things in his favour in no time.
Whether Vettel will be stopped this season remains to be seen, but one thing is sure, that the sport will reach greater heights and joie de vivre.