Lewis Hamilton picked up his sixth Formula One Drivers’ Championship in 2019, putting him just one short of Michael Schumacher’s record in the sport now.
Since moving to Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, Hamilton has been the most dominant driver in the sport. He has now won 84 races, his latest success coming at the Yas Mana Circuit in Abu Dhabi last December.
Hamilton’s contract at Mercedes expires at the end of this year so expect to see the world champion at the top of his game. He will want to prove he deserves a new lucrative deal either with Mercedes or elsewhere.
The British driver is bidding for his fourth straight world title this year where he is the clear favourite in the latest F1 odds for the 2020 Drivers’ Championship with the bookmakers.
Here is a look at who the biggest challengers are to Hamilton as he looks to defend his crown once again.
Max Verstappen joined F1 in 2015 and since then he has improved his position at the end of the season with every year. The 22-year-old looks certain to be a world champion in the near future. After finishing third in 2019, he may not have to wait much longer to get his hands on the title.
The Red Bull driver already has a wealth of experience in F1 as, at the age of 17 years and 166 days, he became the youngest driver to compete in the competition at the 2015 Australian Open.
Verstappen was very consistent in 2019 with nine appearances on the podium. If he can convert some of those second- and third-place finishes into wins, he is going to prove to be a strong threat to Hamilton.
Many pundits in F1 believe the biggest threat to Hamilton this year comes from within Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas.
The Finnish driver ended 2019 as the runner-up behind Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship. Bottas finished on the podium in 15 of the 21 races, winning four times across the year.
Bottas has been given a big boost ahead of the new season with his Finnish compatriot and former two-time champion Mika Hakkinen tipping him to win the world title this year.
The 30-year-old clocked the fastest time in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Those numbers may suggest Bottas is set for a strong campaign in 2020.
There were a lot of firsts in 2019 for Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc. The biggest being his maiden Grand Prix success in Belgium.
Ferrari see Leclerc as the future of their construction. He will be joined in 2021 by Carlos Sainz Jr but it is the man from Monaco who is expected to be the number one driver.
Leclerc was fourth in the Drivers’ Championship last year. He outscored his teammate Sebastien Vettel by two races to one. Expect to see him improve on his tally in 2020.
The opening race of this season’s F1 calendar is the Austrian GP which is scheduled to take place on the 5th July.