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THE first Formula One races of 2013 will be just as exciting and unpredictable as the early events of last season, experts believe.

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There were seven different winners in the first seven Grands Prix of 2012.

And an action replay is likely due to four main factors:

**FACTOR 1: Few changes to the rules mean the field is likely to become more tightly-packed, with no team able to introduce an unforeseen radical tweak that will rocket them ahead.

The current regulations are entering their fifth and final year, and sudden leaps in speed are uncommon at the end of an era.

**FACTOR 2: F1’s tyre suppliers Pirelli are introducing new compounds.

It took the best part of half a season for teams to get to grips with the characteristics of the rubber last year, leading to different cars performing well at different tracks. And that looks set to happen again.

**FACTOR 3: The fierce development battle between teams that fought for 2012 victories – Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus – meant they were unable to concentrate on their 2013 cars, unlike lesser teams who should gain an advantage and thus close the gap.

Red Bull’s design guru Adrian Newey said: “We had to keep pushing which made it difficult to introduce developments and simultaneously develop next year’s car.

“This has compromised the timescales of the new car more than we would have liked.”

**FACTOR 4: Instead of working flat out to maximise performance of their 2013 cars, teams may be tempted to divert some resources to preparations for 2014.

This is when a new rules package comes into force, with cars built around 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines.

Williams technical director Mike Coughlan said: “It’s a huge change. There are very few teams who will be able to do a fully-focused run on the 2013 championship AND the year after.”

Edd Straw, F1 editor of racing magazine Autosport, said: “The new year is but a few days old yet already Formula One teams’ thoughts will be turning to 2014.

“Even before a single new car has turned a wheel this season, next year is already on the agenda.

“Conceivably, work going on in the halls of Maranello, Woking and Milton Keynes at this very moment could have a bearing on who wins even the 2018 world championship.”

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