Beefier cars and bulked-up drivers will hit Albert Park circuit on Sunday for Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix where many fans will be hoping at least one team can strike an early blow against dominant Mercedes.
Revised aerodynamics and fatter tires are among a raft of technical changes that pundits feel could bring the Silver Arrows back to earth after they swept the drivers and constructors' championships for the last three years running.
Ferrari's strong performance during winter testing has added to expectations that the sport is in for a shake-up, even as F1's new American managers seek to rejuvenate a series plagued by inertia.
And yet Mercedes, once again, appear primed to ride roughshod over new-season hopes for a changing of the guard.
Nico Rosberg vacated his Mercedes seat in a shock retirement from the sport shortly after winning the drivers' world championship but his old team mate and three-times champion Lewis Hamilton stands poised to take the title back.
German Rosberg thwarted Hamilton's bid for a third successive title and the pair's heated rivalry took its toll on both drivers.
Rosberg's Finnish replacement, Valtteri Bottas, is not seen as someone who will create as many headaches for Hamilton, who will be going for his third victory in Melbourne and 54th overall after winning the last four races of 2016.
"I think he's one of those guys who is not going to be that difficult to manage, especially in the battle with Lewis," Rosberg said of former Williams driver Bottas in a video posting for Formula One sponsor UBS.
"I don't know if he will be able to challenge Lewis or even beat Lewis. That remains to be seen."
Bookmakers have Hamilton a heavy favorite to win at Albert Park, although the Briton has deflected the hype onto Ferrari and four-times F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.
- Wednesday, 22 March 2017