Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2013:
2012 Driver of the Year position:
Fernando Alonso claimed his third world championship runners-up spot in four years, but there was to be no repeat of the three-point margin between himself and Vettel as the Spaniard had no answer to the Red Bull man in the second half of the season.
Things started promisingly, with two wins in the first five races – including another on home soil in Barcelona – but tailed off once the FIA mandated a change of tyre specification on safety grounds.
Alonso had a front row seat as the original selections gave up the ghost in dramatic fashion at Silverstone but, with Ferrari unable to get as much out the replacements as their rivals, saw his challenge fade, despite some typically battling performances.
Podiums in Australia, Canada and Britain early on were surpassed by three successive second places in Belgium, Italy and Singapore but, with Vettel winning each time, the performances did little to close the points gap. The title was out of reach by India, but Alonso was able to clinch second overall with Kimi Raikkonen's absence in Austin.
The Spaniard's consistency resulted in points from 18 of 19 rounds – his only retirement came after an uncharacteristic mistake with a broken front wing in Malaysia – and helped keep Ferrari in the hunt for second overall in the constructors' championship until the final round, but a return to the podium in Brazil was, ultimately, not enough to overhaul Mercedes.
Alonso did, however, become the sport's highest-ever points scorer, although he was the first to admit that the revised scoring system skewed the record books somewhat.
Despite an apparent dissatisfaction with Ferrari that led to him being mentioned in connection with moves to Lotus, McLaren and Red Bull towards the end of the season, Alonso remains at Maranello in 2014, where he will be joined by the returning Kimi Raikkonen to forge the Scuderia's strongest line-up for some years. How the pair work together will be one of the enduring stories of 2014.
's 2013 F1 Driver of the Year – top ten to date:
5. Romain Grosjean
6. Nico Rosberg
7. Mark Webber
8. Lewis Hamilton