F1: 2013 season preview

Published 9:10 AM ET, Thu March 14, 2013
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After 15 years with McLaren, Lewis Hamilton has flown the nest and landed in the Mercedes garage. The 2008 world champion is being tipped for success in 2013, with his new teammate Nico Rosberg showing in preseason that the new Mercedes is capable of topping the timesheets. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
But if Hamilton is to win a second drivers' championship, he will have to overcome triple world champion Sebastian Vettel. The German has taken the title in each of the last three years, with his Red Bull team also leaving other manufacturers trailing in their wake. Paul Gilham/Getty Images/file
The title race will not be as simple as Vettel vs. Hamilton. A fired-up Fernando Alonso missed out on the 2012 crown by just three points, and the double world champion will be looking to challenge at the front of the grid given the improvements in his Ferrari following last season's design problems. Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Five rookies will be on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix, including Valtteri Bottas (pictured) who will be behind the wheel for Williams. Caterham drafted in Giedo van der Garde, while Esteban Gutierrez makes his debut for Sauber and Marussia boast an all-rookie line up of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Pirelli will serve as the official tire supplier in the final season of its three-year contract. The new tire is made of a softer rubber than its 2012 equivalent, with lap times expected to increase by up to half a second. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
There will be 11 teams lining up for the first race in Melbourne following the collapse of Spanish outfit HRT after three seasons without scoring a point. LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images/file