Yes! Today they held two F1 practice sessions in Melbourne, Australia. Tomorrow is qualifying, with the race on Sunday, OZ time.

For those of you who haven't followed F1, it's been a 100% Ferarri show for the last few years, with Michael Schumacher, the highest paid athlete in the world, now a seven-time World Champion. Fangio won five back in the fifties, and few thought that recoird would ever be broken.

Anyway, there are lots of changes this year. Each engine must last two races. Tires must be selected before qualifying and the single set must last until the end of the weekend. The aerodynamic rules have changed drastically. All these rules are intended to slow the cars down, but the fact is, they're almost as fast as they were last year. Imagine the speeds had the rules not been changed!

Many of the drivers have swapped around. There are four rookies. One is from India - the first F1 driver ever from that country.

The biggest change may be the McLaren, which finished a poor fifth place last year, showed strongly in winter testing, and led the second practice strongly today.

There's more at Practice, qualifying and the race are shown on Speed Channel in the US. The schedule in Australia is actually reasonable for West Coast viewers. (European races generally start at 5 am PDT. Thank goodness for TiVo.)

And, yes, Formula 1 represents commerialism and consumption at its most extreme. But I enjoy the competition, the speed and the engineering that goes into perfecting these projectiles. It's also the most international of sports, with races in virtually every part of the wolrd, except Antarctica. In addition to the usual first world nations, they race in China, Malaysia, Brazil, Hungary, Turkey and Bahrain. Futbol is played in more countries, but the top teams don't tour the way that F1 does.

I've enjoyed Formula 1 to some degree ever since I was given a Matchbox version of Jim Clark's 1965 British Racing Green Lotus 25. Alas, I haven't been to the F1 circus since Long Beach '82.

Let's hope for a safe season with the championship battle going down to the wire!