Second half of 2013 to be Vettel-Hamilton battle?

The second half of 2013 looks set to be a head-to-head between championship leader and favourite Sebastian Vettel, and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso still have more points than Hamilton, but many are tipping Mercedes to keep improving from track to track until the November finale.

High-speed Spa and Monza, for a start, look set to favour the powerful W04.

But Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko told Sport Bild: "We won in Montreal, even though the circuit is more of a Mercedes track.

"Will bring new parts to each of the last nine races."

It is on the Austrian's final point that many see the rest of 2013 as a likely Red Bull-versus-Mercedes battle -- most of their rivals might see focusing on the all-new challenge of 2014 as a wiser choice, given recent form.

Sport Bild claims that, in contrast, Mercedes' Paddy Lowe has been tasked exclusively with continuing to develop the German team's 2013 car right until the end.

Nonetheless, team director Toto Wolff is playing down the chances.

"We cannot be confident," he is quoted by the Mirror, "it would be the wrong approach to say we have found the golden key now."

Red Bull's Vettel, with a 48-point lead over Hamilton, is also playing things down, despite others predicting him to wear a fourth consecutive drivers' crown.

"There is still half a season ahead of us, Mercedes has been developing well so we cannot say anything.

"Things change fast in formula one," he is quoted by Brazil's O Estado de S.Paulo.

(GMM)

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