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McLaren MP4-28

Image via McLaren Racing - http://www.mclaren.com/formula1/

With just over 5 weeks left until the start of the 2013 Formula 1 season and pre-season tests already underway in Jerez, many Formula 1 teams have taken the wraps off their 2013 challengers.

But with little changes to the technical regulations, can we expect to see anything different for Formula 1 in 2013? Donna Kelly takes a look this season’s F1 cars…

Lotus E21

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Lotus made the headlines when it became the first Formula 1 team to unveil their 2013 challenger – the Lotus E21 on 28th January.

Unveiled by the team at its factory in Enstone, the Lotus E21 looks remarkably similar to last year’s car in which Kimi Raikkonen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and took third in the championship.

Beyond the new black, gold and red livery, the Lotus E21 boasts some subtle enhancements for 2013, with Lotus’ technical director James Allison claiming the “devil is in the detail”.

Lotus F1 Team E21 Live Launch

The most obvious change is to the exhaust area, with the E21 featuring a new Coanda exhaust style set-up, enhancing the aerodynamics of the car. Revisions to the front and rear suspension layouts have also been made.

The E21 retains the controversial and much debated stepped-nose from last season, with the team choosing not to race with the new 'vanity panel' for weight reasons.

The E21 will also feature the passive double DRS system which Lotus hopes will deliver them a straightline speed advantage in 2013.

Drivers Kimi Rakkionen and Romain Grosjean retain their seats from last year. Belgian Jerome D'Ambrosio remains the team’s official reserve driver.

McLaren Mercedes MP4-28

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In what was arguably the best launch of the 2013 season, McLaren unveiled the eagerly awaited MP4-28 on Thursday 31st January at the McLaren Technology Centre.

Broadcast live from the McLaren Technology Centre with Sky F1’s Natalie Pinkham playing host,  McLaren kicked off their 50th anniversary celebrations with a spectacular parade of classic racing cars before the finally unveiling of the MP4-28 to the world’s press.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 car reveal LIVE - Highlights

Once again, to the eye, the McLaren MP4-28 looks very similar to last year car, boasting exactly the same colour scheme as 2012. But driver Jenson Button claims there is more to the MP4-28 than meets the eye, with enormous changes ‘under the skin’.

Much to the delight of the fans, McLaren elected to race with a 'vanity panel' covering a stepped nose on its 2013 car, with Tim Goss, McLaren’s director of engineering, claiming the aerodynamic advantages outweighed the increase in weight.

The McLaren driver line-up features a major change for 2013, with fan favourite Lewis Hamilton departing for Mercedes after six seasons with Woking squad, and Mexican Sergio Perez partnering Jenson Button.

Ferrari F138

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Ferrari took the wraps of their 2013 car – the F138 - at a big launch event in the Italian town of Maranello on 1st February.

Described as an 'evolution' of the F2012, the Ferrari F138 retains the front and rear pullrod suspension system from last season but features revisions to the exhaust layout, cockpit and sidepod intakes to help boost the car's aerodynamics.

F1 2013 Ferrari F138 Launch - Maranello, Italy

Like the McLaren, the Ferrari features the new 'vanity panel' covering the car’s stepped nose, with team principal Stefano Domenicali stating this was for performance reasons. The F138's Kinetic Energy Recovery System has also been revised and lightened for 2013.

Ferrari has high hopes for the new F138 following a poor start to the season with the F2012 last year.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will partner Felipe Massa again for the 2013 season.

Sahara Force India VJM06

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Silverstone played host to the launch of Sahara Force India’s 2013 challenger- the VJM06 - on Friday 1st February.

Powered by a Mercedes engine for the fifth consecutive season, the new VJM06 is the third car to be overseen by Technical Director, Andrew Green, and builds on the strengths of the 2012 car.

Live Sahara Force India VJM06 Launch

Under the skin, the VJM06 features revisions to the rear suspension, front suspension and the aerodynamics, with the most obvious visual change being the removal of the step nose.

“The VJM06 doesn’t look massively different to its predecessor, but beneath the skin we’ve looked at every detail to try and find more performance,” says Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya.

Force India is yet to announce who will partner Paul di Resta for the upcoming season, with Jules Bianchi and James Rossiter assisting during pre-season tests in Jerez.

Sauber C32

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On Saturday 2nd February, Sauber unveiled the new C32 to the world’s media at an exclusive launch event in Hinwil, Switzerland.

Boasting an all-new grey livery, the Sauber C32 has notably small sidepods inspired by Sergio Perez's accident in qualifying for the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix.

Presentation of the Sauber C32-Ferrari - Sauber F1 Team

Chief designer Matt Morris said that Perez's side-on impact at Monaco made the team realise that it was possible to reduce the width of the sidepods by almost 50%.

Other notable changes include revisions to the front end of the car and the exhaust area, as well as a “whole new braking system” that the team were developing last year.

Sauber has an all-new driver line-up for 2013, with ex-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and promoted test driver Esteban Gutierrez replacing Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing RB9

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On Sunday 3rd February, Red Bull Racing took to the spotlight as they unveiled the RB9; the car they hope will help secure their fourth consecutive Formula 1 championship.

Described by Red Bull's technical chief Adrian Newey as an “evolution of the RB8”, the RB9’s design looks very much like last year’s car, with minor alternations to the front wing and sidepods.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing - RB9 Launch

The most obvious change is the RB9’s new blue, red and purple livery, reflecting Red Bull’s new title partnership with Infiniti for the 2013 season. The car also retains the much unloved 'boxer nose' from last year, with Newey opting to use a partial 'modesty panel' due to concerns about its weight.

Surprisingly, photography at the Red Bull Racing launch was banned, causing a bit of stir with the world’s media, although a handful of studio images of the new car were released later by the team.

Red Bull Racing retain their driver line-up from last year with Mark Webber partnering World Champion Sebastian Vettel for the 2013 season.

Mercedes W04

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took the wraps off the Mercedes W04 on Monday 4th February at Jerez.

Joined by Team Principal Ross Brawn and the recently-appointed Executive Director Toto Wolff, the Mercedes W04 boasts a number of hidden features which Ross Brawn hopes will help push the team forward in 2013.

Mercedes F1 W04 launch - Highlights

Designed around a second-generation Coanda exhaust and new five-element front wing, the W04’s features an enhanced aerodynamic design, with further updates expected before the start of the season. A number of features from last season’s car have also been retained including the pushrod front suspension and pullrod rear suspension.

In a controversial move, Lewis Hamilton joins Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg for the 2013 season. Lewis will drive car number ten while team mate Nico Rosberg races number nine.

Toro Rosso STR8

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On the eve of the first pre-season test at Jerez, Toro Rosso unveiled the STR8 to the world’s media.

Aerodynamically, the STR8 looks very similar to the STR7, with the only major change being the loss the aggressive 'twin floor' design concept that the team has used for the past two years.

Torro Rosso STR8 Unleashed

Technical director James Key claims the STR8’s major differences are on the mechanical side, with enhancements to the suspension, giving the team more flexibility than it had with the STR7. Interestingly the team has not chosen to follow sister-team Red Bull Racing and has fitted a vanity plate to the nose of the car.

Red Bull protegees Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne retain their seats with Toro Rosso for a second season.

Caterham CT03

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Caterham unveiled the CT03 just in time for the start of pre-season tests at Jerez on Tuesday 5th February.

The Renault-powered CT03 is an evolution of last year's car and features a refreshed green and yellow livery to enhance its visibility on track.

F1 launch: First look at the Caterham CT03

Technical director Mark Smith says major changes have been made to the cars diffuser, engine cover and cooling exits for 2013. Subtle improvements have also been made to other areas including the sidepod turning vanes and the lower tea-tray area.

New front and rear wings and a new diffuser are expected to be added to CT03 after the start of the season.

Drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde will be racing for the Leafield based outfit for the 2013 season.

Marussia MR02

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Marussia joined arch-rivals Caterham when it unveiled its latest Formula 1 car - the MR02 – in the Jerez pits on Tuesday.

The MR02 is the first car design created entirely by Marussia's in-house technical team and will also be fitted with a KERS unit for the first time in the team’s history.

Marussia F1 Team - MR02 Launch - February 5, 2013

Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon is excited about the new car which also features a completely new exhaust package.

Luiz Razia joins fellow GP2 graduate Max Chilton for the 2013 season with Marussia Racing.