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Your! Call: Who will take this year's F1 drivers' title?

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Shane McNeil, TSN.ca
3/16/2013 9:55:30 PM
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If history teaches anything, it's that the 2013 Formula One season could be nine months' worth of drivers furiously chasing Sebastian Vettel.

The 25-year-old German is the odds-on favourite to take a fourth straight World Drivers' Championship in 2013 and with good reason.

Having won 31 poles and 21 races over the past three seasons, Vettel has been a cut above the competition this entire decade and is deservedly the man to beat.

But could this be the year the field finally catches up?

Vettel's victory last season came in the final race of the season, giving him the title by a mere three points. That's a marked difference from his record shattering 122-point win in 2011 that saw him earn more poles than anyone before and 11 races overall.

That year he hoisted the trophy with four races to spare. But this year, once more, it may come down to the wire.

Hot on his heels last season was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso – who could well have snapped Vettel's streak were it not for a four-race streak the German put together in the fall.

Ferrari is pushing hard to end its five-year drought and the new F138 set some impressive times in Spain in February and the team scored a pair of top-five starts for the Australian Grand Prix.

If Alonso – himself a two-time champion - or Felipe Massa get off the line early, they could be contenders. But if last year's race proved anything, it's that it's not how you start but how you finish.

Vettel's Red Bull teammate Mark Webber will again be a force to be reckoned with. He put up fast times in Australia this week and will be looking to atone for last season's sixth-place final finish after two straight third-place finishes in 2010 and '11.

While not at the level of Alonso or Vettel last season, Kimi Raikkonen had a consistent season, winding up third. He only won a single race (Abu Dhabi) but was the only top-10 driver to finish every race. Lotus has never won a drivers' championship, but if Raikonen can turn some of his top-10s into podiums and a podium or two into a win, there's no reason he can't factor in.

And then there are the Brits.

Lewis Hamilton (2008 Champion) and Jenson Button (2009 Champion) will be looking to win the title in a Mercedes car for the first time in three years. The pair combined for seven victories last season and finished fourth and fifth respectively in the final standings.

The problem, though, was that for all the races they won they racked up DNFs in almost equal measure.

Button failed to finish four races while Hamilton retired five times, including book-ending DNFs around three of his four victories. Hamilton proved that he can lap with the best of them, earning five poles in 2012.

If he can stay on course and turn some of those retires into positive results, there's no reason he can't be a title threat this season.

As we stand at the season's starting line, we want to know who will be celebrating at the finish.

What do you think?

Will there be a surprise candidate that hasn't been mentioned? Will any of these drivers pose a serious threat to Vettel's grand slam?

As always, it's Your! Call.

Sebastian Vettel (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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