Lewis Hamilton is joined by seven Olympic medallists, a boxer and a tennis player on this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, as revealed by the corporation this evening.
The youngest-ever F1 world champion will go head to head with swimmer Rebecca Adlington, cycling champions Nicole Cooke, Chris Hoy, Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins, sailor Ben Ainslie and runner Christine Ohuruogu as well as super-middleweight Joe Calzaghe and British tennis number one Andy Murray.
The betting markets immediately installed the McLaren driver as odds-on favourite, with only Adlington and Hoy anywhere close. Calzaghe and Murray are the only other contenders to even appear on the bookies’ radars.
The winner will be decided in a public phone vote to be held on Sunday December 14 and Hamilton is expected to have a tough battle on his hands following British success in this summer’s Beijing Olympics.
The McLaren driver also faces a rematch with Joe Calzaghe after the popular Welsh boxer’s surprise win last year, which relegated Hamilton to second place.
On the day of the broadcast two of the contenders, Hamilton and Hoy, will take part in a head to head contest at the Race of Champions event at Wembley before flying to Liverpool for the evening event. Hoy, dubbed the fastest man on a bike, will battle Hamilton in a Mercedes road car.
Jake Humphreys, set to anchor the BBC’s F1 coverage from 2009, will be one of the show’s presenters. The shortlist of 10 contenders was put together by a panel of 28 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines – all of whom put Hamilton on their shortlists.
• Meanwhile, Hamilton has said that he is looking forward to tackling the challenge of mastering the new-style car design resulting from changes in F1’s technical regulations.
He said: “I’ve had a close look at the new car and the engineers have explained the philosophy behind it. I am watching testing with interest.”