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What does 2013 have in store for Formula One?

This year is set to be another significant one for Formula One, as the competition adjusts to new rule changes and a host of driver changes. With Sebastian Vettel having won last year’s championship, there will be increased competition for the 64th annual competition – with Lewis Hamilton switching to Mercedes, and Ferrari targeting a return to winning ways, the Formula One season will be another close run affair. The season begins in Australia on the 17th of March, and ends in Brazil on the 24th of November.

In terms of competition for the drivers’ championship, Vettel has to be the favourite again, although the pressure of maintaining his form, and the narrow margin of his victory in 2012, will presumably weigh heavy at the start of the season. Alonso will be more motivated than ever to close the gap for Ferrari, while the switch by Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes should provide some insight into whether the driver can step up to the top of the sport with a new team.

Other potential challengers could include Kimi Raikkonen, who is rebuilding his form at Lotus, while Jenson Button will hope for another year of improvement with McLaren. Some new drivers this year include Max Chilton at Malrussia, and Valtteri Bottas at Williams; there is little chance, though, of new drivers upsetting the current hierarchy. Recent test runs at Jerez in Spain saw Button achieve a strong first time, while Hamilton suffered brake failure as Mercedes work on their new car. Alonso skipped the Spanish test run altogether in order to focus on building his fitness for March.

Nineteen Grand Prix will make up this year’s season, at least at the moment, with a prospective Grand Prix of America in New Jersey being delayed. Although will be no new countries participating this year, the Nurburgring will return, while familiar destinations like Silverstone and Monza will be the focus of the mid season. The ongoing effort to build up Formula One in the United States will continue to be maintained by the new Austin track, which was a success last year.

Rule changes for the 2013 Formula One season will be marginal compared to the major engine switch that’s set to take place in 2014, when the current 2.6 litre V8 engine standard will be replaced by a 1.6 litre V6. Other changes that will be seen this year, however, will be restrictions on Drag Reduction Systems, as well as some aesthetic rethinking of car designs after controversies over ‘platypus’ noses in recent years. This year’s competition will be governed by the Seventh Concorde Agreement, which includes some restructuring on votes in the FIA.

Some other potential rule changes that will shape the 2013 season will include a points penalty system for dangerous driving, as well as the testing of front wings for cars. Pressure to reduce costs and debt within teams is still present, but is being contended by manufacturers, and will probably not be a factor in 2013. Minor rule changes include an extension of personnel curfew in paddocks to eight hours on Thursday nights before races, as well as ongoing research into cars only using electric motors when driving in pit lanes.

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