Sebastien Loeb, the seven-time world rally champion, believes this season will be a journey into uncharted territory.
"This year, there is a great unknown with the new regulations," he said.
And the Frenchman says that this weekend's Rally Sweden is unlikely to offer any real indication as to how the 2011 World Rally Championship (WRC) fight will go.
Sweden is the only rally on the calendar that involves racing on snow and ice and the conditions usually lead to an unpredictable race.
The biggest change to the rules for this season is that the cars will be powered by a 2,000cc turbo unit rather than a 1,600 unit.
Also, the final stage of every rally this season, starting in Sweden, will be televised and the driver who finishes the stage in the fastest time will be awarded three championship points, with two for the runner-up and one for third.
Loeb who is going for an eighth consecutive title this year, was beaten in Sweden last year by Mikko Hirvonen, the BP Abu Dhabi Ford driver, and considering his domination of the sport in recent years has a surprisingly mediocre record in Karlstad, having won the race only twice in nine attempts.
The Citroen driver told his team's website: "I do not think the truth of Sweden will be the season. The main surface of the World Rally Championship is the earth. This is where the title will be played.
"In testing, I feel more at ease on land than on snow. This first rally is not the capital of the season."
The Frenchman has already claimed every record there is in rallying and he is hopeful of continuing his astonishing title reign, going back to 2004, this season.
"I hope I can fight to defend my title," the 36-year-old said. "I'm not going to change strategy. We'll have to deal with races one after the other."
Petter Solberg, who will be driving a privateer Citroen, welcomed the rule changes.
He said on his personal website: "I think that this may give the spectators some action at the end of the rally, and prevent us from just driving safely to secure our places."
While the points awarded are a small amount compared to the 25 for the overall rally winner, over a season they could be crucial in deciding the destination of the championship, and Loeb admitted he was wary of the changes, although he was still positive about his chances.
"Everything makes me think that the season will go well but the only valid comparison is the stopwatch," he said.
"I'm not the type to announce things without being sure of myself. We must therefore await the results of the first rallies before making any prediction."
Loeb was fourth quickest in yesterday's shakedown, driven as fresh snow fell, with Henning Solberg's privateer Ford going fastest, ahead of the start of the rally last night with the opening special stage in Karlstad, followed by six stages today.
Of the shakedown, Loeb said: "The conditions are really difficult with the fresh snow.
"Even in a straight line, the car tends to surf. It's a feeling of hydroplaning on the snow."
Loeb's new teammate, Sebastien Ogier, who has been promoted from the Citroen Junior team for this season, was eighth fastest in the shakedown.