Jenson Button has been installed as instant bookies’ favourite for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award after the broadcaster released its final shortlist of 10 names.
The Formula One champion will attempt to go one better than Lewis Hamilton, who has finished runner-up for each of the last two years after his heroics on the track proved not enough to win over the public in the award voting.
Button’s closest rivals are likely to be an athlete and a boxer – unsurprisingly, since only athletics has produced more winners than motor sport since the awards were founded in 1954 and boxing is a close third in the victory table.
Sheffield’s heptathlon world champion Jessica Ennis is ranked second in the eyes of most bookies while heavyweight David Haye, who recently won the WBA world title, is the other main contender.
Sentimental votes are likely to go to Ryan Giggs, the first footballer on the shortlist since 2005, as he approaches the end of his career, while Ashes-winning cricket captain Andrew Strauss and gymnast Beth Tweddle could also poll strongly.
The remaining shortlisted candidates are cyclist Mark Cavendish, triple jumper Phillips Idowu, tennis champion Andy Murray and teenage diver Tom Daley – the latter is also on the final shortlist of three for the young athlete award, which racing driver Sarah Moore missed out on after making the last 10.
The nominees will be put to a public vote on the night of the live show, which will be broadcast from Sheffield Arena at 1900 GMT, Sunday 13 December on BBC One. F1 presenter Jake Humphrey will co-host, along with Sue Barker and Gary Lineker.
The shortlist was put together by a panel of 26 sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines. The BBC’s Carl Doran said: “Overall there are nine sports represented and you only have to look at those who just missed out, like Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Tony McCoy and Andrew Flintoff, to see how strong a line-up it is.”