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Again, F1 predictions are dangerous. But if Hamilton isn’t competitive, that will remove a big obstacle to Vettel adding a fourth world title in 2013 to the one that seems promised to him this Sunday.

Hamilton is thrilling to watch because he’s so fast and aggressive. F1 will be a poorer spectacle next season if he becomes lost in the no-man’s land of mechanical failures and mediocre race performances that swallowed up Schumacher’s final year.

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester