Formula 2 is back! And McLaren-Honda Young Driver Programme member Nyck de Vries will be racing in the series formerly known as GP2, piloting a Rapax car alongside GP2 veteran Johnny Cecotto.
Back? Oh yes. Formula 2 means a lot to all motorsport historians. Long before GP2 was born or thought of, in 1948 in fact, Formula 2 was inaugurated, becoming a fully fledged championship in 1967, and running all the way through to 1985, when it was replaced by Formula 3000, which was in turn replaced by GP2 in 2005.
The last Formula 2 champion was Mike Thackwell, who won the 1984 series in a Ralt-Honda, and every Formula 2 champion from Jacky Ickx in 1967 to Thackwell 18 years later went on to race in Formula 1.
This week the Formula 2 teams will be testing at the Circuit de Catalunya, and Nyck spoke to us from his Barcelona hotel room yesterday evening.
Q: What do you think about the fact that GP2 has changed its name to Formula 2?
NdV: It's an exciting change, a great change. It underlines the series' link to Formula 1, the FIA, and so on. It really brands the series as the last step on the ladder from karting to Formula 1. As a result, I think Formula 2 will now be universally recognised as the main feeder series to Formula 1. That's great.
Q: Are you excited?
NdV: Very much so. Of course. Very excited indeed. But I'm also focused and ready. I've just checked in to my Barcelona hotel, and I'm going to spend the evening chilling out and getting ready for tomorrow, starting with a long hot bath.
Q: What are your initial impressions of the Rapax team and people?
NdV: I've only been to the Rapax factory once, so I don't know them all very well yet, but my first impressions are really good.
The first thing that struck me was how nice it was to be back in Italy - I spent a lot of time there in my karting days - and the second thing that struck me was what a fantastic facility the Rapax team have. It's in Veggiano, in the province of Padua, about 45km [28 miles] west of Venice, which is a lovely part of the world. It's pretty big - 1500 square metres - and it's also very neat and orderly and smart. OK, it's not quite as impressive as the McLaren Technology Centre - almost nothing is - but it's more comparable than you'd think. I've seen quite a few other GP2 factories in the past, and the Rapax factory outclasses them all.
As I say, I've only been there once, for a seat-fitting, ready for this week's test. But everyone - Andrea [Bergamini, Managing Director] and the rest of the team - was really friendly and welcoming, and professional and focused too. I speak fluent Italian, which helps, although when we were discussing the minutiae of technical racing matters we spoke in English, which is the universal language of motorsport everywhere of course.
I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Andrea. I tested the Rapax GP2 car in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year - and, after that test, which I'm glad to say went very well, he really pushed to have me in the team for this year. So I'm going to work as hard as is humanly possible to reward the faith he's put in me, by driving as well as I possibly can for him.
Q: Where will you live this year?
NdV: I'll actually stay where I am - in Holland - simply because it's perfectly situated for my two roles: racing for a Formula 2 team based in Italy and driving the simulator for a Formula 1 team based in England. But I'll visit the Rapax factory as often as I can.
Q: Where in Holland do you live? Amsterdam?
NdV: Oh no. I live in an absolutely tiny village in the province of Friesland, with a population of only a few hundred people. It's called Uitwellingerga, which I guess I'll have to spell for you! It's near Sneek, which has a population of just over 30,000, so that's where people from Uitwellingerga go when we want to go shopping or socialising.
Q: Rapax won the GP2 championship with Pastor Maldonado in 2010, and Sergey Sirotkin had a good season with the team in 2015, but last year wasn't so great for the Rapax guys - are you confident they can do well this year?
NdV: I'm confident that the Rapax team is ambitious and professional, and that their facilities are first-class, and that we're here to win. That's got to be our aim. I'm not making any predictions - and remember I'm a rookie - but we're focused and ready and I intend to contribute a lot straight away, even though I'll necessarily also be learning a lot in the early races, for obvious reasons.
Q: You're a rookie as you say - but your team-mate, Johnny Cecotto, has started more GP2 races  than any driver in GP2 history, having made his GP2 debut in 2009. How do you view being paired with such a super-experienced team-mate?
NdV: I regard that as a real positive. I've met Johnny, and he's a good guy. His experience will be massively valuable to the team, in terms of the contribution he'll be able to make, and I intend to watch him and learn from him too. OK, he'll be my team-mate, so obviously we'll be each other's closest rivals as well, but I'm looking forward to it.
And here's a funny story. I first went to a Grand Prix with McLaren, at the invitation of Martin Whitmarsh, in 2009, at Monza. I was just starting out as a McLaren Young Driver Programme member. I was a kid of 14 - and Johnny was making his GP2 debut!
Q: Your fellow McLaren-Honda Young Driver Programme member Nobu Matsushita will be racing for ART's Formula 2 team this year. Are you expecting some good battles with him?
NdV: Yes, I hope so. ART has been one of the most consistently successful teams in GP2 history, so I expect them to do well this year. Nobu will surely be up at the front pretty often, as one of the guys to beat.
Q: And former McLaren Young Driver Programme member Oliver Rowland will be driving for DAMS in Formula 2. Are you expecting to be battling him too?
NdV: Yes, why not? I know Oliver very well - we were team-mates in karting. He's very quick. So, yes, he'll also be one of the guys to beat I'm sure, especially as his team, DAMS, are also usually pretty good.
Q: How are you going to approach this week's first test in Barcelona?
NdV: Well, I'm going to work hard but I'm going to enjoy it too of course. It's three days long, and I want to get a lot of laps in and help the team as much as I can. I've driven the Rapax car before of course, in Abu Dhabi last year, but this test will be different for a number of reasons. I'll be operating as a real member of the team this time, not as a one-off guest keen to impress, and we've got two new tyre compounds to appraise and acclimatise to, plus we'll be doing all the normal pre-season stuff like practice starts, pit-stop practice, and so on.
We'll have one more pre-season test, which will be in Bahrain later this month, prior to the first races of the season, which will also take place in Bahrain, during the Grand Prix weekend in mid-April.
Q: How will you dovetail your Formula 2 racing with your McLaren simulator work?
NdV: Well, I'm going to have a busy year! But that's great. It's exactly what Stoffel did in 2014 and 2015. He raced very successfully in GP2 in those two years, while also doing a lot of sim work for McLaren. Obviously, my Formula 2 racing will be my prime focus - the McLaren guys understand that and in fact encourage that prioritisation - but, even so, I'm going to be very involved in McLaren's sim programme and I'm glad about that because I really enjoy it.
I work really hard at my McLaren sim work, because it's important to the McLaren car's development and because I rate McLaren's sim team very highly. It's also very good for me from a learning perspective. Working in the McLaren sim immerses me in the world of Formula 1, at the heart of one of the best teams in the business, and of course it's the closest you can get to driving a Formula 1 car other than the real thing.
Q: You say the McLaren guys understand that your Formula 2 racing will be your prime focus - and you're right about that - so have you been in touch with Zak [Brown] and Eric [Boullier] recently?
NdV: Yes. I texted them both to tell them the good news about my Rapax deal, in advance of the announcement on Saturday, and they both replied with warm congratulations. McLaren tweeted the Rapax press release and I noticed that Zak retweeted that. I'll keep in touch with both Zak and Eric, and the rest of the McLaren team as well of course, because the Formula 2 races are a support series for Formula 1, so I'll be at most of the Grands Prix. When I'm not working with the Rapax guys in the Formula 2 paddock, I'll base myself at McLaren, as always.
Q: There are now two Benelux drivers in Formula 1 - Stoffel and Max Verstappen. Max famously made his Formula 1 debut at an extremely young age, bypassing GP2 entirely. Is your aim to emulate Stoffel's route?
NdV: Of course, that would be superb. Stoffel had two great seasons in GP2, winning the championship in his second year, and has in fact won more GP2 races than any other driver in GP2 history [11 wins]. But to be honest I'm not thinking about any of that. I'm just focusing on the job in hand, which is to work as hard as I can to do as well as I can for Rapax in Formula 2 this year. That's my job. I'm taking things one step at a time.