Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The race calendar for 2008 stands at 18 races and it has only a couple of changes from last year. There are two new tracks, at Singapore and Valencia, with the former being the inaugural night race as well. The US Grand Prix has been dropped this year, and Turkey has moved high up the calendar to be in the first half of the season. Here's a quick guide to the host nations this year.
Australia - Australia always provides a good start to the season, with a challenging track and drivers struggling with the time difference. The future of the circuit is in doubt at the moment, so a good race would help their prospects immensely.
Malaysia - The first corner at Malaysia always provides interest, with it being a 180 degree turn. The heat and humidity at the track makes this one of the toughest races on the calendar, it becoming an endurance race as well as a fight for points.
Bahrain - Bahrain is no longer a new track, heading into its fifth year. It still takes teams some time to adjust though, as the track is usually inundated with dust and debris from the surrounding desert. The teams will be looking forward to the start of the European leg of the season in the next round.
Spain - Barcelona is one of the major testing tracks, so both drivers and teams will be familiar with the circuit's twists and turns. With Alonso back at Renault, expect the Spanish fans to come out in force to support their local hero.
Turkey - Turkey moves up the calendar for 2008, and as one of the few remaining anti-clockwise circuits, it remains a challenge for the drivers. Last year was a disappointing race as we know the track holds so much promise.
Monaco - Monaco is one of the oldest and most respected tracks, and hosts one of the most glamorous races of the year. However, it doesn't afford the best racing, with little overtaking and only a tunnel to challenge the drivers.
Canada - The circuit in Canada is a beautiful place to race. It's situated on an island with a lake in the middle of the track, and has some stunning views. The track itself can be tricky - last year's race was full of incidents. I don't expect this year to repeat that, though.
France - The French Grand Prix takes place tucked away in the depths of the French countryside, and is not popular with fans, drivers or teams. Ticket sales seem to struggle, but with Alonso back at Renault, the French team may drive a resurgence in popularity for the race.
Make sure you check out the second part of the calendar, including Britain, China, and the two new tracks.