Big Three set to dominate again

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael believes the pecking order will not change in the 2013 season, with his team, Red Bull and Ferrari fighting for the titles.

Red Bull celebrated its third double championship-winning campaign in a row this year, as Sebastian Vettel became the youngest triple champion in history.

Vettel's 2012 campaign was very different to last year's however, when the German dominated with 11 wins from 20 starts.

Red Bull took seven victories this year, an amount matched by McLaren. Ferrari won three races, while Lotus, Mercedes and Williams took one each.

Michael reckons the situation will remain unchanged at the top next season, but he believes the midfield teams may be closer to front.

"They [midfield teams] will close up a little bit. I don't think there'll be any massive shake-up on the grid though," said Michael.

"We'll be in the normal situation at the front with McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. Then the rest of them I can't predict.

"The great thing about Formula 1 is that someone could always go out and do a stonking car, have a good driver in there and be part of the action. You've got to say Lotus are looking very good. You've got to expect Force India to return strong next year. And Mercedes, of course."

While Michael concedes it is hard to predict who else will be competitive, he is convinced that McLaren will be able to produce a strong car.

"There's no point in me listing teams because I don't know what they're doing," he said. "All I can say is what we're doing. We know what we're up to and I know that should be good enough to produce a competitive car.

"It was only three or four races ago that people were going 'oh no, how are you going to go into the winter knowing Red Bull are going to walk all over next year's championship?'"

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reckons Ferrari's Fernando Alonso will again be one of the main threats to his drivers in 2013 after coming close to taking the title this season.

Horner also feels McLaren's Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton - moving to Mercedes - will be fighting at the top.

"I think that for sure he is at the top of his game, at his peak. He will be a formidable competitor next year," Horner said of Alonso.

"You can see the team is very much geared around one driver.

"I think Fernando, Lewis and Jenson are potentially very strong threats for next year."