Will Sebastian Vettel's reign end in 2014?
Sebastian Vettel coasted to a fourth consecutive title in 2013 but whether the record-breaking German makes it five next year could depend on how he and Red Bull get to grips with Formula One’s new technical landscape.
In what has been described as the biggest revolution the sport has ever experienced, a raft of changes are set to shake up the pit lane and inject some much needed unpredictability to the outcome of races.
When Vettel and company line up for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March their cars will have undergone a major facelift, sporting a new chassis, a lower nose, and a radical new engine.
Gone is the 2.4 litre V6 engine used since 2006, with in its place a far more fuel efficient 1.6 litre V6 turbo ‘power-train’. And in a controversial move slammed as “absurd” by Vettel, double points are to be awarded for the last race of the season.
Not that this measure would have had any bearing on the outcome of the 2013 World Championship, with the peerless Vettel lifting the crown with a massive 155 points to spare over Fernando Alonso.
A season that had promised so much at the outset when former champion Kimi Raikkonen picked up the opener in Melbourne reverted to type as early as the second race.
Vettel turned a blind eye to team orders to win in Malaysia and take what was to turn out as permanent control of the championship lead.
The 26-year-old German roared into the F1 history books with three races to go in India as the youngest four-time World Champion and only the fourth driver to win four titles on the trot.
Despite Vettel’s position of power he insists his desire to compete is undimmed. “It is not as if I’m getting bored, I think I still have a lot to do,” he said after Austin.
“One day people might look back and talk about our time and what we have done as a team.”
Webber, who takes his leave of F1 with nine wins from 215 races to forge a fresh career with Porsche in sportscar racing, believes his former teammate and Red Bull are once again the men to beat in 2014.
“They’ll be favourites for starting the season very strongly, which is probably not what people at home want to hear,” the Australian told the BBC.
Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey was more cautious, suggesting the new changes meant “a fresh roll of the dice for everybody”.