You’d think that as an F1 fanatic I’d be happy that a new season is about to start, and yet I’m not. Why? I’ll tell you why…. Hermann Tilke: that’s why!

I want the season to kick off on a cool circuit with bags of atmosphere, somewhere like Albert Park in Melbourne. Not on one of the German circuit designer’s soulless geometry exercises.

Given that it’s such a hot place, it’s nothing short of amazing just how cold Bahrain leaves me… Beautiful architecture admittedly, and a surface that looks like it’s been dusted down with toothbrushes, but boy is it a bore. A soulless, zig-zagging bore in the middle of a landscape of no discernable features whatsoever.

I have no idea what Bernie sees in Tilke, apart from he pays phenomenal attention to things like plush poncey stands, VIP facilities and, in the case of China, corners “signifying” yin and yang – although they could also “signify” pointless over-design.

He completely sucked the character and grandeur out of Hockenheim, Sepang’s not that bad I guess but it’s no Spa, Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit is blander than anything that ever oozed out of Pop Idol… his only redeeming feature is that he designed the gobsmacking Istanbul Park circuit, which provided some great action last year: a stunning anti-clockwise track packed with some phenomenal turns that just need some half-decent names to make them a bit more memorable.

And what is there to look forward to? Well McLaren and Raikkonen are going to be desperate to finally land those championships, Renault are going to be equally desperate to retain them – especially with Alonso jumping ship at the end of the year.
We’ll have Michelin wanting to leave the sport on a high note, Ferrari wanting to put 2005 behind them, and Michael Schumacher pretty keen to show he’s not past it.

Added to that, a new and possibly very silly qualifying system, new teams and drivers, new v8 or limited v10 engines (with 2 race lifespans), the return of tyre stops, and – best of all – the return of Britain’s Anthony Davidson to Friday drives (thanks to BAR’s woeful 2005 constructors’ standing) and it could all make for excellent viewing.

Having said that, the new qualifying could also be a downside – as could the new engine rules if you’re Mercedes. And the loss of Spa is nothing short of criminal. A mixed bag then… And isn’t that just like any season really?

Come Sunday I won’t care that it’s Bahrain and not Melbourne: F1 will be back, and that’s all that matters.