With the end of one of the most thrilling F1 seasons now a distant memory -- the energy emancipated by the five-way title race / the curiosity brought by the retired Fuhrer returning to stumble through the first three quarters of the season before performing some quite outstanding races whilst the leaders blew up at the front towards the end / the incredible ability of ex-World Champion Lewis Hamilton to drag his sub-standard McClaren to within a win of the title -- what could possibly hold our attention this season?
Well it's not Red Bull's ridiculous ability to create a monster machine rivalled in very few aspects by even fewer contenders, it's not Ferrari's imminent response to throwing away last year's title in the most embarrassing of circumstances, and it's not the uncomfortable relationship carefully maintained by McLaren's Britons to erase painful recent team memories.
No this year could be all about Mercedes.
Think about it, in a car obviously restricted by planning for this season's travails they managed to have the most consistent performer of last season in Nico Rosberg look extremly determined in their lineage (of which even Michael Schumacher was impressed), the experience of said Schumacher which was evident as the season drew closer to the end in Yeongam, and the knowledge of almost a full year's preparation for 2011.
Yes, under Ross Brawn, it looks at least part-likely that Mercedes will be closer to the front, perhaps even the car to beat this season.
So why have the bookies not thought so? Or is this one of the great cleavages in their profession, a mere oversight agreed on by the fraternity.
At this very moment Victor Chandler offer huge odds of 14/1 for Schumacher, and 16/1 for Nico Rosberg, to lift the drivers title. Even better odds, however, can be found on Betfred, where they make Mercedes quite a ludicrous 9/1 for the constructors title. The general consesus is that they will finish fourth, despite having the tools cited above, and not having the restrictions of (a) a poor McLaren in almost all aspects of performance bar straight line speed last season (b) an underperforming Felipe Massa (c) an unhappy Mark Webber.
Of course alot will be known after the early season performances, yet even then Renault managed to outplay their hand rather cynically last season before the lights had gone green in Bahrain, so alas it will be perhaps mid-season before we know if the bookies have made a mistake, but my 20e docket is already made out and I'm looking forward to next November's winnings.