McLaren sporting director Sam Michael feels that the same three teams will be the ones that will battle it out next year for the FIA Formula One Championship: McLaren-Renault, Red Bull-Renault and Ferrari.
Of course, Michael is viewing the constructors' team championship which Red Bull Racing took home the honors this year thanks to the now three time drivers' champion Sebastian Vettel, and his teammate Mark Webber.
McLarens' drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton recorded the same tally of Grand Prix victories at seven; Ferrari's Fernando Alonso took three wins. However, Ferrari took second with 400 points.
He did not mention Lotus-Renault whose driver Kimi Raikkonen placed third in the drivers' championship this year. McLaren did place third with 75 points more than Lotus.
Yet Michael does not count out Williams, Lotus, and Mercedes who each had one victory. "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," he said.
While Michael believes the top end of the championship will be contested by the same teams again next year, he does expect the midfield teams to close the gap to the front-runners.
As discovered this past season, a good start does not mean a great finish. Nor does a rough start to any given season count one out of the running. Vettel came on strong after the Summer break while during the entire season, McLaren faced the dreaded gremlins.
Michael said "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?'"
For 2013, Michael realizes that they will not "know what [other teams] they're doing." At this point, McLaren's sporting director is mainly concerned about his team. Button returns and will aim for his second championship; while new team driver Sergio Perez aims foremost for the needed points.
Added Michael, "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."