With less than a month until the Formula 1 circus moves to Bahrain to raise the curtain on the new decade, we wait with bated breath to see if the 2010 Formula One World Championship will be as exciting as it threatens to be on paper.
The field boasts four world champions, 11 race winners, (hopefully) four new teams, a returning team, five or more new drivers, and the return of the most successful driver in the sport's history.
Many feel the main battle this season will be between the McLaren Mercedes squad and the Mercedes GP team, fresh from their takeover of BrawnGP.
However, I don't think that will be the case. This season has been billed as a face off between nations. Britain vs. Germany, Hamilton vs. Schumacher, Former Champions vs. Reigning champions.
It threatens to be a huge battle. With Mercedes powering both chassis, it comes down to the designers, who incidentally are both based in the UK, to come up with trumps and create the best car. However, the battles within the teams could take center stage.
With Michael Schumacher returning to Mercedes, they hope to have a car that lives up the great driver’s expectations and add to his tally of seven world titles, as well as building on the success of the BrawnGP team.
The forgotten man of this whole piece seems to be Nico Rosberg. After being told to "Get out" from being Schumacher’s teammate by Rubens Barrichello, Rosberg got his head down and worked.
When he signed for Mercedes GP, he had no idea who is partner would be with the new team. Many speculated Heidfeld or even Button to stay on to team up with the young German, however it was Schumacher who lurched in the shadows to secure the drive and reincarnate part of the Ferrari "Dream Team" that saw him to five world titles. Initially, Rosberg was on the attack towards Schumacher.
"When you stay away from F1 for a long time, it takes time to get used to all the trial sessions again; it is not simple," Rosberg told a German national newspaper. "It will not be easy for him."
However, once the seven-time world champion was confirmed as his teammate, all went quiet in Camp Rosberg.
Warnings have come from all over the paddock, none more vocal than Barrichello. He told Rosberg not to lay down and die for Schumacher and be his own man.
Schumacher has already tried the psychological games by demanding the No. 3, saying he raced better with odd numbers.
McLaren, on the other hand, are hoping to show that again they are the team to beat in Formula 1. After a torrid 2009, they welcome world champion Jenson Button to join Lewis Hamilton, who both look to build on their solitary world championships.
This could become more of an internal power struggle, as Button hasn’t moved to McLaren to play second fiddle to Hamilton. He’s moved to win.
There has been mixed predictions between on what could happen between the two drivers this season. Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine spoke his mind, however, as he eloquently phrased it, "Button will be ‘murdered’ by Hamilton."
However, former F1 driver and BBC pundit David Coulthard thinks differently.
“There's no question that Lewis Hamilton is a great driver, and there's no question that Jenson is a great driver, but one of those guys come the end of the season will be on top...and it's going to be fascinating to watch. I don't know the answer; let's wait and see,” Coulthard told crash.net.
After all the pleasantries have been passed, the two seem to have some deep-lying respect for each other. This could be what stops the pair becoming a Hamilton/Alosno or even a Senna/Prost partnership.
Many feel it could be the best all-British partnership since Hill and Clark in 1966. Whatever the comparisons, it seems Button and Hamilton could write themselves into history one way or another this season. For better or for worse.
Its widely thought that all four drivers are capable of winning races, but can any of them step up above their teammates to win the title?
However, I don't think it’s the battle that will take center stage this season.
For this battle we need to look towards the stable of Ferrari.
Before pre-season testing even began, it was well known that Ferrari have been working on the F10 since the middle of last season, ploughing funds and time into the development of the chassis.
After a horrible 2009, Ferrari will stop at nothing to get back to the top as we saw with this week's statement from Ferrari, launching a scathing attack on the FIA and how its pushing through smaller teams. (See http://bleacherreport.com/articles/351128-unravelling-ferraris-tirade-towards-the-fia)
In the statement, they include the line "Ferrari have always succeeded via the means they know best—through investing millions," signaling their intention to get back to the sharp end of the F1 grid.
After the worst-kept secret in Formula 1 was revealed, that Alonso was moving to the Maranello-based team for the 2010 season, it was clear of Ferrari's intentions.
Alonso has come out with some very good sound bites for Ferrari, describing joining the team as a "dream come true," as well as saying he hopes to finish his career with them.
I currently consider Alonso to be the most driven, naturally talented driver on the grid at the moment. I have no doubt in my mind come this time 2011, I will be sitting here typing about reigning world champion Fernando Alonso, and how it will be difficult to defend his title.
For the first time since Schumacher, Ferrari has a driver they can mould a team around: a leader, a grafter and a talented driver.
However, at this point I’d like to mention, although I don't think Felipe Massa is a driver you can build a successful team around, there is no doubt in my mind he is capable of winning a world championship. I feel this is where the struggle will start.
Massa has been a loyal servant to Ferrari. Of this there is no doubt. The very likable Brazilian has worked hard to get up to the high standards that are expected of him, and pre-season testing has shown he has a steely determination to win.
After his accident in Hungary last season, many felt he might never live life to the fullesy again, no matter the drive.
However, the little Brazilian has come out fighting. Although he didn't win the battle with his fitness to race again in 2009, he has come back stronger and is fighting fit to win the world championship this year.
Alonso might be set to experience something similar to where we saw him at McLaren. He has joined a team who has moved heaven and earth to sign him and has been seated alongside a driver who has grew up with that team.
Alonso quickly quashed these rumours by saying he has learned from what happened in 2007.
‘"It will not happen again," Alonso said. "I am more prepared than I was two years ago. And Ferrari is more important than any driver in that car.’
We will see what the volatile Spaniard will do when push comes to shove.