So as the Christmas decorations are piled into their boxes and shoved to the back of the garage once more, it’s time to turn attentions to the start of another year and with less than 80 days to go, another season of Formula 1.
First up for me, it’s a trip to Birmingham to Autosport International, always lots of fun and a chance to catch with a lot of friends and meet even more F1 fans, all of whom I’m sure will have an opinion to share on what we witnessed last season and what could be in store for us this year.
Following that I’ll be in the recording studio to voice my lines for the Formula 1 2016 game, continuing an association with Codemasters that goes right back to their first F1 game in 2009. Really looking forward to seeing what the boys and girls have come up with for new features this year.
According to Mrs Croft, I’ll also be spending far too much time on the sofa in the next few weeks, although what she won’t notice is that I’ll be surrounded by reading material, and my lap top will be open as I swot up for 2016. There’s always plenty to research, including of course, where to go in Baku? A new race venue this year and after a quick check of the calendar, it seems I’ll be spending my 46th Birthday in the Azerbaijan capital. Not something I ever imaged I’d be saying.
Before the season gets underway I’ll be having a couple of weeks holiday with the family. There’s no chance of doing that when the season finishes and with Christmas spent in part, covering the World Darts Championship, February is the best time to go away. What’s lovely though is that it ensures I start the season feeling refreshed and ready to go.
I’m so looking forward to seeing what the teams have in store for this year. Will Mercedes pick up where they left off, how will the dynamic between their two drivers affect performances and will Nico Rosberg be able to secure a new contract when his runs out at the end of the season?
Can the influence of James Allison engineer a way for Ferrari to catch up even further and win more races? What have Honda done to boost McLaren further up the grid? Can Red Bull, after such petty threats to leave the sport in 2015, get back to winning ways?
For Force India and Williams, does 2016 offer them the chance for more podiums and more chances to upset the odds, certainly in terms of beating the teams with the bigger budgets?
Can Renault’s acquisition of Lotus improve the fortunes of this once great team and will having a works team help Renault improve their Power Unit for the future?
Will it be a point scoring maiden season for Haas F1 as they state is their aim and will Manor, with a Mercedes power unit be able to close the gap to Sauber? Who you would hope would be confident that they can score good points again, certainly in the opening few races.
And at Toro Rosso, what will be the impact of running a year old Ferrari engine and how will that impact on the fortunes of the two brilliant young rookies Verstappen & Sainz? Brilliant debut seasons, now comes the hard part of replicating it.
To be honest there are plenty more questions than this and maybe the two pre-season tests will help answer a few of them.
We’ll be all getting together at Sky F1 to sit and plan ahead for our coverage of 21 races, yes 21! All live and for me, that’s 105 separate F1 commentaries this season. Will we run out of things to say? I doubt it, and I can’t wait to get going for what will be my 11th year commentating on F1.
Bring It On