The Australian Grand Prix is more than two months away, and 2011 defending champion Sebastian Vettel will be looking to repeat for his first win of the 2012 circuit at Albert Park in Melbourne.
Red Bull's Vettel picked up where he left off in last year's race with a dominant performance, defeating second-place finisher McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by more than 22 seconds.
Thank you, boys, said Vettel, as he crossed the finish line. Fantastic race -- really controlled. Thank you very much. Very cool. Excellent car. Excellent stops. We learned a lot from today.
Learning might be the key word for Vettel in 2012.
Though Vettel made a few mistakes in 2011, Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey said the 24-year-old has learned from them, and should become an improved driver in 2012.
All we can do is try and look at our own weaknesses from , and try and improve on them, Newey told Autosport. We still had some areas that could be improved upon, but as always it is going to be the development race through the winter.
The best Formula One driver in the world, and perhaps a growing legend in the sport, is going to be better than last year? That's a scary thought for Vettel's competition.
It may not be a stroll through Albert Park for Vettel in March, as Australian Mark Webber goes into Melbourne with momentum following his first-place finish in November as Red Bull earned their third one-two of the 2011 season with Webber's victory at Grand Prix of Brazil.
Webber, 35, finished in the Top Five in 18 of 19 starts in 2011.
When it wasn't Red Bull Racing winning a grand prix last season, it was usually a McLaren team winning it. The team won six grand prix titles in 2011, led by Brits Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
Hamilton finished second at the Australian Grand Prix in 2011, and is coming off a season where he won the Chinese Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Germany, and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 26-year-old is known for taking risks, but sometimes it pays off. He finished in the Top Five in 13 out of 19 races.
Button is not known for taking too many chances, and is a smooth and smart driver. He won the Grand Prix of Canada, and the Japanese Grand Prix in 2011, and the 31-year old finished in the Top Five in 14-of-19 races.
The 2011 season was an enthralling year for Formula One. The 2012 season promises to have more of the same energy.
With the Australian Grand Prix begining on Mar. 15, there is a general excitement to see how Vettel does against some tough competitors.