Continued from page 1

Wonder-designer Adrian Newey will be counted on to deliver another quick Red Bull, further refining his RB-series car that gave Vettel the platform to become the first driver since Michael Schumacher to win three successive world titles.

Schumacher will be back in retirement, after three ho-hum years at Mercedes where he didn’t get even within sniffing distance of being able to challenge for an eighth world title.

His replacement is Lewis Hamilton, the Briton with a fragile temperament so keen to add to his world title of 2008. The pressure will be on Mercedes to give Hamilton a better car than its slug of 2012, so he doesn’t quickly get frustrated and regret his move from McLaren.

At McLaren, 2009 world champion Jenson Button is licking his lips at the idea of now leading that team. Button won Sunday’s race, with what looked like speed to spare.

“To end on a high is fantastic and it bodes very well for 2013,” Button said.

Ferrari also is already working on its car for 2013. It hasn’t had a championship driver since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 and hasn’t been able to deliver Alonso the third world title his talent surely deserves.

“We need to build a quicker car next year,” Ferrari chassis director Pat Fry said.

The biggest downer?

That the next race isn’t until March, in Melbourne.

The best measure of how exciting this season has been is that that seems like a horribly long wait.

___

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