It is truly remarkable just how many people love to watch motor racing. Almost everyone I meet knows something about the forthcoming Grand Prix season. Many have plans to go to at least one race. Many have their favourite drivers.
They all have opinions, both negative and positive, about the sport. I was queuing in a shop the other day when a man started telling me how wonderful Lewis Hamilton is. Then I was standing at a bar, having a quiet glass of wine, when a woman asked me who would win the championship this year?
I have no idea. Have you?
Lots of people ask me how Mr Ecclestone has managed to hold on to so much power. They all like to offer a wager on what will happen in 2009.
So, if we haven’t met, here are a few thoughts on the year ahead:
1. The BMW F1.09 will be very fast in Melbourne.
2. Robert Kubica will be in the hunt for the championship.
3. Giancarlo Fisichella will retire.
4. So will Jarno Trulli.
5. And Kimi Räikkonen.
6. Toyota will not continue into 2010.
7. KERS will be very troublesome, and controversial.
8. McLaren will win the constructors’ title.
9. Williams will be revitalised and score points.
10. Fernando Alonso will move to Ferrari in 2010.
11. Sir Fred Goodwin will join the FIA.
12. Rear tyre wear will be a headache.
I’m not taking any bets but some of these will come to pass.
More interestingly, David Coulthard will be the star of the new BBC TV coverage. This will reinvigorate Martin Brundle and the coverage will be warmly received.
Plans for a Grand Prix in London will be announced. Boris Johnson will support the plan and Donington will be put on hold
Aston Martin will not win Le Mans but the team will bring the race back into the headlines. The cars will look wonderful, sound terrific.
Meanwhile I have been talking to Bob Dance, chief mechanic at Team Lotus during the golden years of Colin Chapman’s innovative team. The old mechanics are simply the most colourful, entertaining and honest people you’ll ever meet in this sport. Bob has so many great stories from the Grands Prix of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s that he could fill the fattest possible book. He was a big fan of Mario Andretti, another huge character from the days when etc, etc. Mechanics tell good stories so keep an eye open for Mr Dance’s recollections of a wild night out with the 1978 World Champion in the magazine soon.