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Stars driven by thirst to repeat feats

THE grid may have swelled to accommodate two more teams, but all eyes in this year’s Formula One season will be trained on four men, each desperate to prove very different points. Title-holder Jenson Button, his cohort in McLaren’s all-English driving line-up, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, now in mouth-watering unison with Ferrari, and returning icon Michael Schumacher all know how it feels to be crowned champion. The challenge for each is to scale the summit again, in very different stages of their careers.

Button confounded critics last year by winning a maiden championship at the 10th attempt, having long been written off as an also-ran. To be considered a great, rather than very good, driver, however, Button may have to repeat the achievement. The 30-year-old’s McLaren will be formidable, if not as advantageous as last year’s Brawn, but it will be intriguing to see how he fits into a team that has such close ties with Hamilton.

The youngest F1 champion ever made little secret of his frustration at being unable to mount a convincing defence of his title last season, and will be raring to reinforce the argument that it was the car, not him, at fault. Complacent is not an adjective often associated with Hamilton, but racing in the same colours as the current champion should provide the 25-year-old with extra motivation, should he need it.

Alonso will not need reminding that four years have passed since he won his last title, but his long-awaited move from Renault to Ferrari is sure to make him a genuine challenger once again. The Spaniard will relish reigniting his simmering rivalry with Hamilton as much as testing himself against Schumacher again.

The seven-time champion is arguably the greatest unknown quantity, not having raced in more than three years, and with injury doubts lingering. But merely seeing Schumacher, one of the sport’s all-time greats, vying against the class of 2010 will be worth watching. Who prevails is impossible to predict but either way it seems certain the spectators will be big winners.

FORMULA 1 2010 | THE TEAMS

MCLAREN
1 Jenson Button (GBR)
Age: 30; Races: 170, Wins: 7

2 Lewis Hamilton (GBR)
Age: 25; Races: 52, Wins: 11

MERCEDES
3 Michael Schumacher (Ger)
Age: 41; Races: 248, Wins: 91

4 Nico Rosberg (Ger
Age: 24; Wins: 70, Wins: 0

RED BULL
5 Sebastian Vettel (Ger)
Age: 22: Races: 43, Wins: 5

6 Mark Webber (Aus)
Age: 33; Races: 138, Wins: 2

FERRARI
7 Felipe Massa (Bra
Age: 28; Races: 114, Wins: 11

8 Fernando Alonso (Spa)
Age: 28; Races: 138, Wins: 21

WILLIAMS
9 Rubens Barrichello (Bra)
Age: 37; Races: 284, Wins: 11

10 Nico Hulkenburg (Ger)
Age: 22; Races: 0, Wins: 0

RENAULT
11 Robert Kubica (Pol)
Age: 25; Races: 57, Wins: 1

12 Vitaly Petrov (Rus)
Age: 25; Races: 0, Wins: 0

FORCE INDIA
14 Adrian Sutil (Ger)
Age: 27; Races: 52, Wins: 0

15 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita)
Age: 28; Races: 44, Wins: 0

TORO ROSSO
16 Sebastien Buemi (Swi)
Age: 21; Races: 17, Wins: 0

17 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa)
Age: 19; Races: 8, Wins: 0

LOTUS
18 Jarno Trulli (Ita)
Age: 35; Races: 216, Wins: 1

19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin)
Age: 28; Races: 52, Wins: 1

HISPANIA
20 Karun Chandhok (Ind)
Age: 26; Races: 0, Wins: 0

21 Bruno Senna (Bra)
Age: 26; Races: 0, Wins: 0

SAUBER
22 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa)
Age: 39; Races: 72, Wins: 0

23 Kamui Kobayashi (Jap)
Age: 23; Races: 2, Wins: 0

VIRGIN
24 Timo Glock (Ger)
Age: 27; Races: 36, Wins: 0

25 Lucas di Grassi (Bra)
Age: 25, Races: 0, Wins: 0