After an acrimonious three months, Formula One looks to move into a new era fresh from the criticisms of last season.
But are these heightened tensions not part and parcel of hugely evocative fight?
There was a delight in switching over to watch the first practice session of the 2022 Formula One season yesterday.
Having previously written about the clumsy manner in which last season ended and the haphazard manner in which the promoter and sport authority handled the situation, it finally felt as if everything could move forward.
Frankly, there were also far more important things going on in life and the world to give too much heed to the various hashtags, which aimed to delete events in Abu Dhabi. Alas, the world does not work that way and neither does the FIA. Hockenheim 2010, this is not.
It is easy to understand the frustration though. The full FIA report into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix debacle is expected today, so there is little doubt that no matter what its conclusions or recommendations, the usual threads of fixing the title will re-emerge. But this is just another echo chamber, and a supremely boring one at that.
Knowing what is coming today, I made the decision to enjoy yesterday’s action – if one can call free practice sessions “action” – for it was nice to see the cars rolling, albeit at nowhere near the limit for which they were designed and built.
With new technical regulations, new driver line-ups and new relationships, the equilibrium of the Formula One field has once again shifted and that can only be a positive.
Bahrain will never have the buzz and thrill of a Grand Prix in Melbourne’s Albert Park, but it is a better track for race action and given these new technical regulations, do not be surprised if the rate of attrition is higher too.
The one real unknown at this point is where the competitive order of the teams sits right now. Following eight seasons of near complete Mercedes domination, last year finally gave the viewing public a year where they were consistently challenged throughout the year’s competition, although if one is to believe Friday form and the pre-season test sessions, then for the first time since 2013, Mercedes has some catching up to do.
The Honda-powered Red Bull team still appear to sit at the forefront, but thankfully, Ferrari have the Austrian team in their sights. And yet, that was only practice. This is another day and with it, there are new stories to be told.
Sometimes such extremes of competition bleed into aggression and tension on track and when the spoils are so great, not even the best drivers can avoid crossing the line. One only needs to look at Silverstone and Monza last year to see how that can develop.
Let’s just hope they do not all get swallowed up in the recriminations of December.