2013 World Driver's Championship

Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes within three tenths

Betting on the 2013 drivers championship before the season has started is not recommended. Without knowing which team has the best car it is very difficult to predict. The main information is last year and winter testing. In 2012 the quickest car varied between Red Bull and McLaren, with Ferrari and Lotus behind. Meanwhile Lotus and Ferrari had excellent reliability, Red Bull were okay whilst the McLaren failed mechanically many times. However, it is difficult to judge if this has changed. Since each car will have different fuel loads, the lap times they post in winter testing are not a reliable means of judging strength. Waiting until the championship develops or betting on individual races is recommended instead.

The final test times put Rosberg, Alonso and Hamilton on top of the combined times for Barcelona, reports Fomula1.com. Factoring in estimated fuel loads and it looks like all the top five teams are within about three tenths of each others, reports the BBC. It looks like it will be a very competitive and varied season but this makes predicting the drivers world championship very difficult.

The most obvious contender will be the Red Bull, primarily based upon their pace of last year. During testing they have rarely set quick times but Red Bull usually try and hide their pace so this proves nothing. Whilst there is no reason to suspect Red Bull will not be very competitive this year, this can only judged by comparison with the other teams who we have more information on. Webber thinks that the Red Bull will not be dominate, reports ESPN so Vettle's odds of 8/5 (2.6) from Paddy Power are not terrible value for money but are probably not the best bet. Meanwhile, Webber's odds are much higher at 20/1 (21.00) from Bet 365 but it is difficult to imagine Webber taking the championship if Vettel is unable to.

Ferrari seem generally pleased with their car. Although it is still slower than the Red Bull, the situations is vastly better than the start of the 2012 season, with Alonso claiming the Ferrari is 200 times better than a year ago, reports ESPN. Given how close Alonso came to victory in 2012 he is a strong contender. His odds of 3/1 (4.00) from Blue Squareare certainly as good as Vettel's. Massa is an interesting outsider. Although his first half of 2012 was terrible, during the second half he actually scored more points than Alonso if every time Massa handed a position to Alonso did not occur. Whilst still very unlikely to win, odds of 66/1 (67.00) from Bet 365 could be worth a small bet.

Despite often having the fastest car in 2012, McLaren do not look currently very strong. They appeared to be slightly behind the pace of the top teams, reports the BBC. They are likely struggle at the start of the season. However, unlike many of the other top teams, they have made a considerable upgrade to their car. As these are tested and tweaked, we can expect the McLaren to improve. The McLaren is a long term car, reports ESPN. If true then avoid betting on Button or Perez until after the first few races. Their odds will likely increase as their current low pace is revealed, giving good odds if they will improve throughout the season.

Lotus surprised many by being so competitive in 2012. Although they should still be competitive for race wins, it appears they are probably not yet quicker than their rivals. Grosjean thinks Lotus are in the top 4 or 5 cars, reports ESPN. Raikkonen will likely get the most out of his car and must be considered a strong contender given his performance last year. His odds of 12/1 from Bet 365 are not bad.

Mercedes appears to the wild card of the season. They had some success in 2012 but had a very weak second half of the season. It was very unexpected for Hamilton and Rosberg to set the fasted times on the last two days of testing, reports Sky Sports. The general consensus is that the Mercedes will have a unexpectedly successful season. Hamilton's odds of 19/2 (10.5) from Betfair are worth a small bet. Rosberg has far higher odds but few rate Rosberg as highly as Hamilton.

The recommended bets are Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton. However, all of this is very speculative. Whilst it can be enjoyable to place a small bet on the championship, it is so much more of a true gamble compared to races where the pace of each team is roughly evident, where past performance at the track is known and the times from free practice or qualifying is known. Avoiding the championship and betting on individual races is recommended.

Odds above accurate at Sunday 10th March, 20.28 GMT. Click to see live odds.