There's still another test session before the F1 season kicks off in Melbourne on 17th March but lets get the hype going as we enter the 69th season of the Formula One World Championship. It will be the usual early start for UK viewers if you able to watch live with Sky starting their broadcast (or narrow cast if the declining number of viewers is true) at ten past five in the morning. Yes, there is a five o'clock in the morning now. The 2019 season is long. We are starting earlier in March than normal and the last race is on 1st December at Yas Marina. In amongst all this the 1,000 GP will be held in China on April 14th. There had been suggestions of trying to run the race in the UK to bookend race 1 and race 1,000 at Silverstone but anyone who can recall the Easter GP of 2000 will realise what a very silly idea this would be. I went to a WEC race at Silverstone in April a few years ago and it snowed. Enough said. So can we hope for a close, exciting and entertaining season with a close battle for race wins and the championship? I have no idea. Testing has suggested Ferrari are the team to beat but then it has suggested this for a few years and the Scuderia has failed to deliver. I suspect the Mercedes will be up to speed come Australia when then take the bag of cement out of the cockpit. Valterri Bottas is talking tough in the season build up, I have a feeling he will roll over and the team will take it in terms to tickle his tummy as each race goes by before they part ways at the end of 2019. Charles le Clerc should give Sebastian Vettel a run for his money at the red team, it will be fascinating to see how the team dynamic develops and if the young pretender can rattle the four times world champion in the way Daniel Ricciardo did at Red Bull. Talking of Red Bull, it is a new era as they move to Honda power. Testing has shown the engine to be finally getting some reliability and Helmut Marko claims they are behind Ferrari but ahead of Mercedes. This may well be wishful thinking on Helmut's part but I do hope the Red Bull can mix it up the front. Behind the top three teams Renault and the newly branded Alfa Romeo team look like being at the head of division two with Toro Rosso not too far behind. McLaren, Racing Point and Haas will be hoping to get closer to these two as the season develops whist poor old Williams will simply be grateful to met the 107% rule if current form continues. So what of Melbourne itself? It took over as the home of the Australian GP from Adelaide in 1996 and has produced, in equal measure, some of the most exciting and boring F1 races I have seen. I hope 2019 proves to be the latter, if not I will have to look to Formula E to continue to compensate for the dirth of excitement in F1. So stats fans, which drivers (according to Wikipedia) have the most wins at the Australian GP? Well there are two with four wins, Michael Schumacher (well durr) and Lex Davidson. Who he you ask? Well, as much as Formula One would like to think it holds the intellectual property on the term Grand Prix lots of other races have been given this title and Lex won races back in the 50's and 60's. These races were run to different rules, Davdison's win in the the '54 race being to F2 spec, the '61 race was Formula Libre and looking at the list of entrants it's quite an eye opener. You had Cooper F1 and F2 cars racing against road cars like the Austin 8 and Zephyr. Can you imagine the bleating from today' s drivers if they came up behind a Fiesta or a Mondeo half way through a lap at Melbourne. It's bad enough for the poor little loves when they have to lap a back marker who's only marginally slower than they are. Back to the Grand Prix pre-85. There is a stunning list of winners including Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Alan Jones and, inevitably, Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. These were the days when F1 drivers had to race in various series to make ends meet and were often contracted by the teams to run in F2 and F3 races as well as F1. Here's another for you stats fans, the Australian GP has been won by two father and son combos (I wasn't sure how else to put this so please forgive my rather clumsy description). Graham and Damon Hill should be easy to work out but Alan Jones' father Stan won the race in 1959 in a Maserati. Before I leave you to get excited about the upcoming season, one last pointless fact for you to take a guess at. Only one driver won the Australian Grand Prix at the full World Championship event and in the Formula Pacific era, who he? Welcome to F1 2019.