The return of the F1 circus to its natural environment - Europe - signals spring has sprung in Europe.  Although I would have thought that the clear signs of hayfever evident in many of the photos from Circuit de Catalunya are just as clear a signal, as are the impressive motorhomes that return to service as the paddock hospitality.  And then theres the rows of shiny trucks parked along the circuit which will be used to transport the paddock and garage structures across the continent.  For those who may be wondering - heres a picture tweeted by Williams of their new Martini-branded Williams paddock hospitality.  Theres a distinct drink flavour amongst the sponsors this season, with a couple of Vodka brands vying with a couple of energy drink brands and the usual sparking and still wine companies in an effort to keep the paddock followers hydrated.

A quick round-up of interesting news grabs - Lewis Hamilton (sans dogs) has been spotted out with Nicole Scherzinger (although hes been quick to squash rumors of a reconciliation), Bernie is in court again this week facing more bribery charges (although his private plane is standing by to whisk him off to Spain at the conclusion of Thursdays proceedings), Force India welcome Smirnoff as their side-pod sponsor from this round, and Susie Wolff is making the most of the media opportunities this weekend leading into her run in the Williams for in-season testing planned for Circuit de Catalunya next week.  Red Bull have been quick to point out that the new chassis theyve brought in for Vettel this weekend is in fact an old one, but the new chassis Toro Rosso have brought for Vergne this weekend is actually a new one and has a number of aero changes which they believe will improve their downforce at this circuit.  Alonso is doing his best to hose down the expectations of the Tifosi, which is a good enough reason for me to suggest Ferrari are confident of a good showing this weekend.  In other Ferrari news, Ross Brawn has been spotted visiting Maranello this week although both he and Ferrari have been at pains to point out it was a "...social..." visit.  Hmmmm.....

Should be an interesting round.  Can McLaren come back from their clutch dramas last round and grab a podium?  Will Force India be motivated to reward their new sponsor with a podium finish?  But the big question - can anyone knock Mercedes of their perch??