22 Teams and drivers are set to take on the Formula 1 (F1) world championship in 2013. However, not all the teams are capable of winning a race, let alone a championship. So who is the most likely to win it all this season?
Last year’s champion Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team came on strong in the latter half of 2012 to catch and pass Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the standings. It wasn’t easy for the three-time champion, as Vettel had to score four victories in-a-row and then withstand a close battle at the last event of the year in Brazil to beat Alonso by just three points.
Still, the German driver has now won the last three championships and is on the precipice of tying Juan Manuel Fangio for the second most consecutive titles in-a-row. Michael Schumacher is the only F1 pilot to have won five straight world championships — from 2000 to 2004. So the question is: Can Vettel win a fourth? Here are the top seven, listed seventh to first.
7. Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes
He makes the surprising move from McLaren to Mercedes and although the 2008 champion is one of the best drivers in F1, the Mercedes team has not yet shown they’re capable of putting a winner on the track. The 28 year old Hamilton will get the most out of his car and though the English driver has always been victorious every season he has competed in; he will be hard pressed to win in 2013.
6. Romain Grosjean — Lotus
The Lotus driver was involved in plenty of action last season and showed promise even if his abilities were questioned at times for the many crashes he was a part of. However, when the 26 year old Grosjean wasn’t involved in incidents on the track, he did well including three podiums. If the French driver from Switzerland can reduce confrontations during races, he could end up with a victory or two by year’s end.
5. Mark Webber – Red Bull
Missing the top five in points with equipment such as he has isn’t going to endear him for much longer at Red Bull. Yes, if the 36 year old Webber doesn’t go out of the Abu Dhabi and Austin races late in the season, the veteran driver probably finishes fourth rather than sixth overall. The hunch here is not much changes for the Aussie who, although very capable of winning races, will dutifully play second fiddle to Vettel.
4. Jenson Button – McLaren
The 2009 champion was the last title holder not named Vettel. Like his former teammate Hamilton, last season was a year of ups and downs for McLaren. Except for being knocked out of Korea by Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi, the 33 year old Button had a very solid finish to 2012 with six top fives at the end of the season. The Englishman looks like the man at McLaren this year but it doesn’t appear Button has enough to contend for the championship.
3. Kimi Raikkonen – Lotus
He was able to garner a late season victory at Abu Dhabi in 2012, a year where the 2007 champion may have been the most consistent driver this side of Alonso. The 33 year old Lotus driver had only one finish outside the Top 10 and this year he appears capable of challenging for more wins. Whether the Finn has the performance package to win the championship remains to be seen but another strong year should be expected from the ‘Iceman’.
2. Sebastian Vettel — Red Bull
Yes, the easy pick to win the championship would be Vettel but the Red Bull performer showed a few chinks in the armor in 2012 and this looks like the end to the consecutive streak of championships for the still young 25 year old. No doubt Vettel will win races and contend for the championship, but he will remain just short of the eventual champion …
1. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
Last year may have been Alonso’s greatest feat: almost earning the championship, winning three times and accumulating an astounding 13 podiums with a Ferrari that was not up to their standards. It seems the 31 year old has been around for quite awhile and this will be his 12th season in F1. Watch in 2013 as the Spaniard’s fierce talents aboard an improved car will likely spell doom for his competitors.