(Monza, Italian Grand Prix 2007Photos and Clip)

Two weeks left go to the 60th season premiere of Formula One taking place in Bahrain 14th of March, and the season already has all the elements needed to become one of the most exciting ones during the past 15 years I’ve been a fangirl of Formula One racing. Apparently Chris Sacca has just been bitten by the beauty of it.

There’s a reason why it’s called Formula One circus, and it’s not only on the circuit the drama takes place. This year brings in an incredible total of five new teams, Mercedes GP Petronas, Virgin, US F1, Campos, and Lotus, to start in Bahrain. And here’s where it already gets interesting: Two of the new teams haven’t presented a car yet, hence never did they show up at the last of the four pre-season tests in Barcelona – and are still to point out the second driver. Then there’s also a Serbian team Stefan GP, boldly called as the Serbian vultures by Ferrari, behind the scenes ready to take a place in the starting lineup.

The season ahead is also adding a serious geek glamour to the championships with Chad Hurley, CEO of YouTube and a major shareholder in the team US F1. And he certainly has got his hands full helping the team to make the grid. Several rumors have been suggesting a possible merger between either Campos or Stefan GP team, but according the latest reports the negotiations are off. I can hardly wait to see which teams will lineup in two weeks, wishing Chad all the best.

Mike Arrington talked with Chad about Formula One during the LeWeb conference (read my coverage). Watch how the talks went back in December – choose between Mike’s interview – or Robert Scoble filming Mike interviewing Chad. Super geeky.

(UPDATE: Sadly, neither US F1, nor Stefan GP will race this year. Team Campos has changed its name to HRT, Hispania Racing F1 Team, signing Karun Chandhok to team up with Bruno Senna as the team’s second driver.)

To further spice things up, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) is back in the game after his retirement for 3 years ago. We have Bruno Senna (Campos), nephew of the late three time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna, and first ever Russian F1 driver Vitaly Petrov (Renault) joining in. Force India has been shaken by losing their technical director, James Key, team member since 1998. The inaugural Korean Grand Prix circuit is still under approval, and the championships returning to Canada makes this a 19-round season – two more than last year. Personally, I’m excited about Lotus’s return to the championships after 16 years. Finnish two time champion Mika Häkkinen started his Formula One career with team Lotus, and now Heikki Kovalainen, the only Finnish driver this year, is to fight for the team’s come back glory.

The Social Formula One

Formula One has always been known of its dedicated fan communities. With overall good grades on the emerging social web regarding the teams’ presence on YouTube, Facebook and blogs, the time has now come to Twitter. Twitter was already used during last season, but this year seems to be its real breakthrough. All but one team have active Twitter accounts, and quite a few drivers and team managers are twittering personally. I must admit it’s been a pleasure to follow the frequent twittering from Barcelona from all the teams, Lotus CTO Mike Gascoyne, and Claire Williams of Williams, to name a few.

Ferrari and McLaren have the most established fan bases on Facebook, Ferrari counting over 770 000 fans (their premium online community for yearly 40€ fee might have something to do with it). Force India, also on Facebook, has free online community with over 1M members, whereas neither Toro Rosso, Red Bull racing nor Williams can be found on Facebook at all. Williams seems generally to have taken different approach by concentrating all videos, podcasts, news and blogging on their own site. See my summary below:

Twitter List for Formula One 2010 Teams and Drivers!
I’ve put together a list of this years teams and drivers. As the season gets started I’m sure even more accounts become more active and to be created (I’ll be adding). Approx. half of the drivers have personal accounts, surprisingly enough three of the absolute biggest names, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, not having verified accounts. To balance it off, and for the good old times, I threw in Jaques Villeneuve, Kimi Räikkönen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Nigel Mansell.

Follow Twitter List for Formula One 2010 Teams and Drivers

(You might also want to check out Sidepodcast, podcasts on Formula One with show anchor Christine Blachford and co-host Mr. C., and their extensive Twitter lists.)

It won’t be the same without Kimi, the Iceman, on the pole, but it sure will be a thrilling twittering season!

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, on Twitter

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