It’s a reinvigorated world champion who begins the 2011 defence of his title. The 19 races of last season would have taken their toll on anyone, but Sebastian is fit and ready for the fight.

“At the end of last year I felt tired and needed a rest,” he said. “But I’ve had that rest now and I’m really looking forward to it again.”
And looking forward is a reminder that everyone, every driver, every team starts from the same position in March. “2010 is behind us. It’s a very proud memory, but now it’s 2011 and there’s another job to do, so we move to the next challenge, which is trying to do the same again.”

The same again, but with a different set of regulations and set of wheels under him.

The unveiling of the RB7 this morning is also the unveiling of new technologies, how does he feel about the changes to the car and the rule book?

“KERS we know about already, we have seen the effect on the track in 2009, but the moveable rear wing is a bit of an unknown. No one has ever driven the car with that type of wing and it’s difficult to know how it will work: will overtaking be just about possible, which I think is the idea, or will overtaking become very easy and therefore artificial, which is what no one wants to happen.

“With KERS, the question is how good and how efficient your system is. Not just in terms of performance but in how quickly it recharges the batteries under braking and how much it upsets your car when you do apply it. Obviously, the teams that had it in 2009 have a little bit of an advantage, but we will just have to work hard on that.

“In the end, though, it is just one variable and there are always variables. We have different tyres to work with this season and we have to see how we deal with that. You just have to adapt and try to make your driving style suit the car. It happens every year and we will deal with it. It’s good, it definitely keeps you on your toes.”