Teams predict the races in 2013 Formula One season will be close as the rules have hardly changed since last year.
MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND, UK (FEBRUARY 3, 2013) (RED BULL VNR) - The Red Bull Formula One team last month (February 3) unveiled an "evolutionary" RB9 car with which they hope to top the championships for a fourth consecutive year, while champion driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany said past successes did not give the team "a head start or any advantage".
Launched at the Red Bull F1 factory in Milton Keynes in central England by Vettel and team mate Mark Webber of Australia, the RB9 is a clear evolution from last year's model, but with notable design tweaks.
Technical head Adrian Newey said there were no huge changes, most of the revisions being in the middle area of the car with a tidying up of details that needed improving from last year.
Triple champion Vettel was dominant in 2011, but not so last year, when seven different drivers won the first seven races and Red Bull initially struggled with their Pirelli tyres.
This season could see the top teams closer than ever with so little regulation change from 2012.
Vettel looked forward to racing, saying that he did not have an advantage over other drivers.
"I'm also convinced it doesn't really give us a head start or any advantage. If anything, you know, the expectations are there, people expect something, but more than that we expect ourselves to do well again. So there's a lot of pressure," said the German.
Mexico's Perez is the team's new recruit, joining 2009 World Champion Jenson Button in preparing for the new season. Both drove up to the launch in McLaren road cars - Button in a prototype McLaren P1 not seen being driven in public before.
The team's MP4-28 is described as almost completely new, but builds on the speed of last year's car.
Perez scored two second places last year at Sauber and has the reputation as a fast driver who is adept of being gentle with tyres when he needs to be - something for which Button is also known. The Mexican takes over Lewis Hamilton's seat at McLaren, after Hamilton left to join Mercedes.
Glamour team Ferrari took the wraps off their new F138 Formula One car at theirMaranello factory on February 1 and set their sights on a winning start to the season after turning last year's beast into a beauty.
The Italian team, who last won the drivers' championship in 2007 with Finn Kimi Raikkonen, have an unchanged lineup this season with Brazilian Felipe Massawill again partnering double world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain.
The broken, stepped nose that drew shocked gasps when unveiled last season - with some saying it was the ugliest Ferrari yet - was smoothed over with a more aesthetically-pleasing flowing front.
Looking fast and racing fast do not always go together, and even ugly cars are loved when they become winners, but the signs were at least more promising as Alonso and Massa both clocked some impressive times at the final pre-saeson test in Barcelona last month.
Ferrari were painfully off the pace at the start of 2012 but their reliability and the prowess of Alonso kept them in the chase with the Spaniard fighting for the title all the way to the wire in Brazil.
Last year saw seven winners in the first seven races, with six different teams triumphant over the season, but Alonso said that would not happen again.
"I think it will be very competitive, very close because all of the top teams will be very close on times and it will be a competitive season but it will be difficult also to see seven winners in seven different races," said the double world champion, denied a third crown by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.
"I think it will be a little bit more consistent, the way the top teams will behave so I see a very close battle," added Alonso.
Prior to the formal unveiling of the car in the pit straight with his new team mateLewis Hamilton of Great Britain, Rosberg was at the wheel for a 100km shakedown.
An evolution of last year's car, the F1 W04 begins Mercedes's concerted push to crack Formula One. The team has had only a handful of third places, one second and one win in its three years of campaigning, all but one scored by Rosberg.
Hamilton has stepped away from the McLaren team that nurtured him since he was 13 years old. He won the 2008 World Championship for McLaren but has finished fourth or fifth in the championship since.
The early signs for the team are good, with Rosberg posting the best time at theBarcelona test with Hamilton third fastest who now finds himself driving with an old friend and former team mate.
"We were just saying how crazy it is because we use to be team mates back in 2000 when we were go-karting," Hamilton said. "So it's a dream to be back here as his new team mate."
Speaking after his first drive of the 2013 car, Rosberg said he hoped the team can become consistent race winners this season.
"The motivation is on the red limiter at the moment. It's a dream to get with the Silver Arrow to the top step of the podium again which we managed once last year but we want to have a lot more of that, it's a big motivation for all of us, so we're pushing really hard and I look forward to what's to come," said the German driver, who secured his maiden grand prix victory in China last year.
Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus team won the race to be first to show off their 2013 Formula One car on January 28 with a challenger that put performance over beauty and turned up its nose at cosmetic surgery.
In one of the few rule changes for the year ahead, teams are now allowed to use 'modesty panels' to streamline the ugly 'broken noses' that caused gasps of dismay when first sighted last season.
The fairings, fitted over existing structures, do not affect the car's aerodynamics and teams are not obliged to use them.
The black, red and gold Lotus E21 decided to remain defiantly immodest, retaining the distinctive step of its race-winning predecessor from 2012, although the team did not rule out a future makeover.
Lotus finished in fourth place last season, with Finland's 2007 world champion Raikkonen winning the floodlit Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and ending up third overall in his comeback season after two years out. Team mate Romain Grosjean ofFrance, despite being involved in a number of controversial incidents last season, has retained his place in the team.
The sleek Sauber-Ferrari C32 was unveiled at the team's Hinwil factory inSwitzerland on February 2 by racing drivers Nico Hulkenberg of Germany andMexico's Esteban Gutierrez. The car features a fresh grey colour scheme and a sleek profile that minimises the usual bulky sidepods of Formula One cars.
The team's principal Monisha Kaltenborn introduced the drivers before the unveiling.
Nico Hulkenberg has joined the team from Force India, while Gutierrez has stepped up from being the team's test driver.
Sauber finished sixth in the world championship table last season, just behind Mercedes and ahead of their rivals Force India.