Allan McNish believes Fernando Alonso and Ferrari 'have to do it this' year after coming so close in 2012 - and in 2010.

McNish, who switches from Sky Sports to the BBC in 2013 following confirmation last week he will act as an expert analyst for Radio 5 live for 'at least' six F1 grand's prix, also added that the fact the Scuderia start 2013 with a stronger base in the F138 is also very important, given the struggles the Maranello-based outfit had with its predecessor, the F2012, last year.

"It is hard to be number one and it is even harder to stay there because everyone is trying to knock you off the top," McNish told last week when asked if Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel can succeed again and make it four title successes in a row.

"McLaren have come out with a new sort of concept for their car and Jenson [Button] is fired up for it. [Sergio] Perez is looking to try and make his mark. But I think we can safely say Jenson is the team leader.

"Lewis [Hamilton] has gone to Mercedes and their performance in testing was better than expected, although it might be a little bit early for them. Lewis was though, supreme last season, in my opinion. He was racing so well and is probably still number one when it comes to qualifying."

"Fernando has got a bit of a point to prove [though]," added the Scot, who has twice won the Le Mans 24 Hours and who raced in F1 with Toyota in 2002.

"Ferrari and Alonso have got to do it this year because they have been so close - and especially last year with such a bad car. Now the car looks to be so strong in comparison to what they had at this time in 2012. They really have to make it work."

McNish also noted that at the moment he thinks Alonso and Ferrari are possibly the most likely to win the crowns in 2013.

"If I was to put my money down on someone right now, before the first race, to actually take the title away from Red Bull and from Vettel, then I would probably say it would be Alonso and Ferrari," he added. "But that is just like looking into a crystal ball. There is a lot of racing and a lot of things to come between now and then."

"When you add it all together you have to say last year was a superb season with the number of winners," he continued.

"It was changing every weekend and some of the races, and the one I particularly remember was Valencia, and how emotional that race was for Alonso - and also the fight, the comeback and the overtaking, and then you take it [the title fight] all the way through to Brazil [too]. Vettel's performance after lap 1 [in Interlagos] was a real world champion's performance.

"You have to say though, that there were probably three people that deserved, as drivers', the world title last year. I am sure that two of them will be trying to take it off the young German this year, plus the others as well of course."

So will it be as unpredictable in 2013?

"I don't think we will get totally the same level of unpredictability because people are starting to understand what the tyres are doing a little bit more and also the tyres this year seem to have a slightly wider working window. However it is a different version of tyre to what they got use to at the end of 2012. So, I do think for the first few races, there will be an element of unpredictability," McNish reasoned.

"I don't think what we saw in testing - especially in Barcelona - was a true reflection of everything. I would say the 'usual suspects' are probably where they should be.

"I think that the first grand's prix will be about the tyres. They will be about who gets it right - and also probably more importantly, who gets it wrong and slips off the edge of that really good grippy part when it is working well. But that is something that makes it quite exciting for us," he concluded.

STOP PRESS: To read more about what Allan McNish thinks about the coming F1 2013 season, CLICK HERE.


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