Hamilton will race without McLaren for the first time.
For me, the coming Formula One season feels like the denouement of the great adventure that has been the past five seasons in the top flight. A new chapter in the great adventure that is Formula One will begin in 2014, when radical rule changes will come into force, ending the current chapter in the ongoing war among geniuses. The coming season completes a fabulous chapter in the great adventure.
Lewis Hamilton burst upon the scene like an explosion of skill and talent, earning the world championship with McLaren in his second season. The team and its principal, Ron Dennis, had groomed Hamilton for this since he was a thirteen-year-old kid in Karting. The number of such gifted drivers has increased exponentially up to this season. There has been more than two eager drivers for every available 2013 cockpit.
The downturn in world economy has been a boon to some neophytes, the ones that enjoy multimillion dollar personal sponsorship. But are they the best drivers for the top flight? It's probable that some of the drivers, including some veterans like Heikki Kovalainen who have no private backing, are better on the track than some who have paid for seats with teams.
Red Bull, driven by Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, have been clearly dominant throughout recent seasons, with Vettel winning the championship three times running, the youngest driver to ever do so. Nico Rosberg finally scored his first win, and consistently outran his famed teammate, Michael Schumacher in all but a few races.
Once again, there are many unknown factors to emerge during the 2013 campaign. Sergio Perez replaces Hamilton at McLaren. Button becomes the team's number one driver. Hamilton replaces Schumacher at Mercedes, and it is the first time, at any level, that Lewis Hamilton will race for anyone other than McLaren. Some expect he will fall on his face, others expect he will continue to impress. I'll be happy if Rosberg tops him every time out. Hamilton's mentors did a remarkable job of making him into a very fast race car driver, but they completely failed to make him into a humble, well-mannered gentleman.
Kimi Raikkonen's return to Formula One from rallying has been marked by considerable success in his Lotus, pleasing most F1 fans. All the fans among my friends are half-hoping Kimi will win the championship during 2013, while most expect it will be Red Bull again, probably with Vettel again. I'm hoping that Alonso takes his Ferrari to the front, given his outstanding performance through 2012, driving a pig of a car. I expect Felipe Massa to be in the chase as well, given his improved performance near the end of the season. He seems to have finally shaken off the specter of his horrendous injury at the Hungaroring a couple of seasons ago.
I feel certain that the only reason why Ferrari have been also-rans so often is the team boss, Stefano Domenicali. He's a Ferrari bookkeeper who's favourite sport is football. If only he would go to a football team and leave the racing to those who have the passion for it. This Domenicali clown has made so many decisions that are just stupid, it astounds me that di Montezemolo keeps him on. Di Montezemolo must be stupid too. I keep hoping that Norbert Haug, recently liberated from Mercedes, will replace Domenicali. He's not the best, but he'd be better than Domenicali.
So I see 2013 as a denouement, tying up the loose ends of the past five seasons, and making room for the start of the new era. Engines go to V6 from V8. Many young, untested drivers. Some especially gifted, like Romain Grossjean, will mature into serious threats at the front of the grid. Then in 2014, small, 4-cylinder turbo-charged engines become the rule, and a new chapter of the F1 adventure begins.