1. Michael Schumacher?s return to Formula One- There is no doubt that this has been the biggest story ahead of the 2010 season, the return of the statistically most successful driver ever in Formula One. This time it isn?t at Ferrari, but with his old mate Ross Brawn at Mercedes GP. Question is, has the 7 times world champion still got it in him to beat the best and win again?
2. An all British super-team at McLaren- If it wasn?t for Michael, this would probably be the most talked about topic currently. 2008 world champion and McLaren?s protégé Lewis Hamilton will be joined by new champion Jenson Button. However, with McLaren?s infamous past of failing to be able to deal with two number one drivers, will 2010 end in success or disaster for the Woking based team?
3. The Hirvonen factor- in 2009, a young Finn named Mikko Hirvonen came very close to ending Sebastian Loeb?s dominance in the WRC. In fact, he was leading for most the year coming in to the last round before being finally piped at the post by Loeb. No doubt Mikko will have learnt from his mistakes and add in the likes of Marcus Gronholm for a one off at Finland, Petter Solberg, Ken Block and 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen and the WRC looks to be in for an explosive year.
4. MotoGP in for it?s closest year?- It?s not just F1 where anticipation is high. Oh no, MotoGP looks likely to set off the new decade with a bang. Valentino Rossi narrowly beat team mate Jorge Lorenzo last time out, but Jorge will be out for revenge. With both Honda?s Dani Pedrosa and Ducati?s star rider Casey Stoner also back to firing on both cylinders, it?s too close to call currently.
5. Alonso finally at the Scuderia- After many years of speculation about when the Spaniard would sign for Ferrari, in 2009 it was confirmed at last. Fernando will be taking the place of Kimi Raikkonen, and with the promise of a competitive car and new team mate Felipe Massa to spur him on, will Fernando return to his great form of 2005 and 2006?
6. New teams and cars in the BTCC- Over the past couple of years, it has been fair to say that Vauxhall has made BTCC their own, until 2009 that was. With no factory based manufacturer on the grid at the time of writing, many would point to the BTCC having a bad year. Anything but! New cars in the likes of Chevrolets, VWs and Fiats have been confirmed, but will anyone bring down Colin Turkington after emphatically winning the title last year?
7. GT1 enters the world stage?- This is an important year for the GT1 category. After recently suffering low car counts and high costs, GT1 officially died in America, but it looks likely to have a new lease of life on the European scene. With the new GT1 category, Aston Martins, Nissan GTRs, Ford GTs, Maseratis, Corvettes, Lamborghinis and more will be the main attraction this time out.
8. ?As does GT2!- It was easy to forget about some of the terrific battles we?ve seen in this category over the years with much faster cars always ahead of them, but like GT1, GT2 is now on it?s own. In many ways this category promises to impress as anticipation grows for the GT2 race at Spa, the jewel in the crown of this year?s title.
9. Peugeot and Audi enter round 4- The Le Mans 24 hours is in for yet another great year. Since Peugeot re-entered the LMP1 class in 2007, the score in terms of wins for both manufacturers lies 2-1 in favour of Audi after Peugeot finally won in 2009 after 3 years of trying. Peugeot know they can do it again, but with more mileage on the R15, Audi will be very hard to beat. Or can a shock start the decade with an outsider showing both the way home? Only time will tell?
10. Johnson goes to make it four- No doubts about it, Jimmie Johnson cemented himself as one of NASCAR?s all time great drivers last year winning a third straight Cup title. Watch him attempt to get his fourth title when NASCAR enters the ?The Chase? towards the end of the year.
11. Todt takes control- Max Mosley?s reign of the FIA came to a dramatic end last year amid controversy amongst the radical cost-cutting efforts he tried to put in place. After announcing he wouldn?t stand for another term, people started to look for a successor which came in the shape of Jean Todt. In his first full year of being president, what changes can Todt make to improve all levels of motorsport under the FIA?s umbrella?
12. Four new teams to enter F1- Okay, so it may not be four if the doubts about a couple of those teams, USF1 and Campos Meta, turn out to be true, but any new teams entering Formula One is always good. We saw the type of shock an underdog in Brawn created last year created, can Lotus or Virgin get near recreating their efforts?
13. New faces also enter the fight- 2009 wasn?t a good year for initially seeing any new drivers on the grid for the start of the year with only Sebastian Buemi joining the fray, but all being well, the likes of Lucas Di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Jose Maria Lopez and GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg will join the grid in 2010. Don?t forget the likes of Kamui Kobayashi either, who impressed in his two debut races at the end of 2009. As well as Schumacher?s return, it looks increasingly likely that Japanese star, Takuma Sato, will finally get another chance after the Super Aguri team folded a few years ago.
14. Britcar backs the 24- Another event that missed 2009 but will return this year is the Britcar 24 hours at Silverstone. This cheaper form of racing always pulls big grids, but with the economy still biting, will the event really return to the great form of 2008?
15. GP3 is born- Another year, another junior formula! But don?t write this one off just yet, it has potential. With a grid of 30 cars expected to support the F1 championship, this series gives a great chance for young up and coming drivers to get noticed by F1 team bosses early on. This could be worth the extra money for staying the entire weekend!
16. The F1 scene returns to North America- Many people have missed Formula One racing in North America, but in 2009 F1 will return to the historic Montreal track. The 2007 and 2008 races were both very exciting and produced shock results. What will happen in 2010?
17. WTCC in for an exciting year- On the news of SEATs withdrawal just a few days ago, many were quick to write the WTCC off as a dying series. I don?t see it the case. If the likes of Gabriele Tarquini can get a deal together to defend his championship, the WTCC looks to be in for one of its most unpredictable seasons in a long time.
18. Massa and Glock back from injury- 2009 was unfortunate for these two drivers, especially for Massa, who suffered a life-threatening injury in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year after a spring fractured his skull. Timo Glock suffered a cracked a vertebrae a few races later during qualifying at Japan. Both are fully recovered and will be as rapid as before their accidents.
19. Piquet goes Stateside- After being involved in one of the most controversial incidents in F1 history last year, Piquet Jnr?s dreams of making it into F1 has capsized. There was no success in securing a ride for this year in Formula One so he?s off to the NASCAR scene. Will he be able to copy the success ex-F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya is having over there currently or will it be more of the same?.disappointment?
20. The Mansell?s go for P1 at Le Mans- A very interesting story this one to come out of the sportscar racing scene recently. Nigel, Greg and Leo will compete at Le Mans in a LMP1 Zytek. If any more headlines were needed ahead of the 24 hours, this is one. The first time that all 3 have been racing in the same team for anything, a little bit of history in itself. But can they go even further and get a podium at the world?s most historic race?
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