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Leading motorsport stars nominated for Laureus Awards

Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner Sebastian Vettel and legendary multiple MotoGP king Valentino Rossi have all been nominated for accolades in the tenth edition of the prestigious annual Laureus World Sports Awards.

Hamilton – who surprisingly and impressively topped FP1 in Shanghai ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix behind the wheel of his recalcitrant McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 – and Rossi are both up for the 'World Sportsman of the Year' gong, against tennis star Rafael Nadal, Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps, Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and sprinter Usain Bolt. The award was won in 2002 and 2004 by record-breaking seven-time F1 title-winner Michael Schumacher.

Vettel, meanwhile – who dramatically upset the formbook with his spectacular triumph for the unfancied Scuderia Toro Rosso outfit in last season's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, thereby going down in the top flight's history books – has been shortlisted in the 'Breakthrough of the Year' category.

There, the young German finds himself up against five rival contenders, including Olympic Games 400m and 800m freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington and French Open tennis winner and former women's world number one Ana Ivanovic. The honour was last year claimed by Hamilton off the back of the Stevenage-born ace's superb rookie campaign in F1 in 2007.

The Laureus Awards – whose nominees are selected by no fewer than 873 journalists from 112 countries worldwide – came into being back at the turn of the Millennium, but the traditionally lavish prize-giving ceremony has been deemed 'inappropriate' this year and scrapped in response to the current global credit crunch, meaning that winners will receive their awards at a series of much smaller presentations in May and June.

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