A confident Michael Schumacher breathed a sigh of relief today as Formula One roared back into action after the long winter break and Mercedes presented the car that could take him to a record eighth crown.
"Finally the waiting is over and things get started," the 42-year-old seven-times world champion said in a team statement before team mate Nico Rosberg took the car out for a first installation lap at the Valencia circuit.
"For us drivers, the break every year is hard to take because the gap between the last race and the first time out on track seems to be never-ending.
"Even if I have been involved and updated all winter on the developments, and even if I know the improvements are significant, it is still different to see the new car literally for the first time in front of you," added the winner of 91 races since his debut 20 years ago.
"I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really building up to something big together."
The former Ferrari ace disappointed many of his legion of fans in 2010 when he failed to get on the podium in his comeback season after three years out and the new Mercedes MGPW02 is key to his hopes of bringing back the glory days.
All drivers must wrestle with new Pirelli tyres after the departure of Bridgestone as sole provider, something that could favour Schumacher, and Tuesday was the first test day with a range of 2011 cars on track together.
"I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly; ideally in the middle," Schumacher declared.
Team principal Ross Brawn agreed: "I am confident that we have done and will continue to do a better job this year in all key areas," said the Briton.