The start of the new Formula One season is already causing much debate and speculation, as last year's champion Sebastian Vettel faces pressure to hold on to his title for another year and several countries return to the fold.
Some of the biggest changes in store for the 2012 F1 season include the return of the United States Grand Prix and Bahrain Grand Prix, the latter of which was cancelled in 2011 due to concerns over security during the rioting in the Middle East. The United States Grand Prix will take place at a new circuit in Austin, Texas, while the Santander British Grand Prix will once again return to Silverstone, on 8 July.
There have also been clampdowns by the FIA on driving behaviour such as the increasing reliance of drivers on off-throttle blown diffusers for creating greater down-force, which puts drivers at greater risk. F1 vehicles themselves have also been subject to new design regulations, most notably the reduced height of car noses off the ground to 55 centimetres (22 inches).
The 2012 season begins on 18 March with the Qantas Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park, and culminates with the Grande Prêmio do Brasil at São Paulo's Autódromo José Carlos Pace. The Formula One season comprises 20 races, and for those watching at home in the UK, a deal brokered between the BBC and Sky Sports will see these events being evenly distributed between the broadcasters.
The deal marks the first time that F1 races won't be widely available on terrestrial television in the UK - in the past they had either been available exclusively on the BBC, or on ITV - however the move to Sky hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of Formula One fans, perhaps in part because of the Sky Sports F1 channel the broadcast giant will launch to coincide with the start of the season.
The last few Formula 1 seasons have proved to be some of the most exciting in the storied history of the sport, and fans will be hoping for even more of the same this year. Whether you're a casual fan sitting at home watching the race unfold, or an enthusiast to the point that you've customised logo mats bearing the emblem of your favourite team, you'll hopefully have something to shout about over the coming season. Just don't get carried away when you're behind the wheel of your own car!