Sebastian Vettel has claimed he feels as if he is "arriving late to school" after missing the first two races of the new F1 season after contracting the coronavirus.
Vettel tested positive on Thursday prior to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, and also sat out the race in Saudi Arabia a week later.
Aston Martin drafted in reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg in place of the four-time F1 champion, and while the German performed admirably, the AMR22 has left a lot to be desired.
Vettel, though, is now fit again and returns to the cockpit for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, with the race back on the calendar after cancellations in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid.
“After testing positive and missing the first two races, it feels a bit like arriving late to school, so I’m really keen to get going again," said Vettel.
"Starting my season in Australia is something I’ve done before, of course, and it’s also great that Formula 1 is returning after a difficult couple of years.
"For me, after nearly a month out of the car, it will be important to learn throughout the practice sessions, and I hope we can take some steps forward in what is usually an exciting and unpredictable race.”
Stroll looking to 'new' Albert Park to improve the show
For F1's return, the Albert Park circuit has been revised, which includes the widening of five corners and a new flat-out section in place of the former turns nine and 10 chicane.
Vettel's team-mate Lance Stroll is hopeful the changes, in conjunction with the new aerodynamic regulations for this season, make for a more interesting spectacle down under.
“It’s fantastic to be able to return to Australia," said Stroll. "Melbourne is such a great sporting city, and the Albert Park track is always fun to drive.
"I’m looking forward to sampling the revised layout and the resurfaced track, which will hopefully improve overtaking, especially into turn 13 which has been tightened.
"In fact, it will be very interesting to see how these new ground-effect cars perform here, as they should also hopefully make racing closer and more exciting.”
Lewis Hamilton has scored a record-equalling eight poles in Melbourne but only won twice. Will he add to his victory tally this weekend?