Formula One world champions Jenson Button and Brawn GP are among a glittering array of international sports stars nominated for the 2010 Laureus World Sports Awards following a ballot by the world's media.
The Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during a calendar year, are regarded as the premier honours on the international sporting stage. The winners, as voted by a Laureus World Sports Academy jury made up of 46 of the greatest all-time names in sport, will be unveiled during a televised ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 10 March.
"This has been a great year for sport and the Academy are going to find it extremely difficult to decide who to vote for as winners," Academy chairman Edwin Moses said, "We have had some thrilling world championships this year and a host of terrific individual performances. I congratulate all the nominees and now we look forward to what should be a great awards ceremony."
Button is in pole position for nomination in the World Breakthrough category following his first F1 world championship victory, at the age of 30 and after 169 grand prix starts.
Following the withdrawal of Honda at the end of 2008, the Briton was left without a drive until former technical director Ross Brawn stepped in and engineered a management buy-out of the team. Button then found himself in a highly competitive Mercedes-powered car for 2009 and won six of the first seven races of the year, equalling the record of Michael Schumacher and Jim Clark, and eventually clinched the title with a race to spare, at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
Button features among three Britons on the Breakthrough list, alongside Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish and diver Tom Daley. Also nominated are Argentine tennis prodigy Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Roger Federer in five sets to claim the US Open, South Korean golfer Ji Yai Shin and German football team VFL Wolfsburg.
"Jenson Button thoroughly deserved to win the World Championship," Academy member and double F1 champion Mika Hakkinen commented, "He has certainly had to wait a long time for this, having taken part in 169 grands prix. And to do it in a revamped team which nearly went out of business in the winter makes it even more remarkable.
"His early season form when he won six out of the first seven grands prix was breath-taking. I hope he will be nominated by the world's media, but this is a very strong category this year, so there will be strong competition to see who the Academy chooses as its eventual winner."
The Brawn team, meanwhile, is recognised for its astonishing motorsport 'debut', in which it claimed both the constructors' and drivers' titles, but faces possibly the toughest category among those being voted on by the Laureus Academy, with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees also pitched against FC Barcelona, the German women's football team and the South African rugby team.
"We have never had an American winner of the Laureus Team of the Year Award so, as an American, I hope to see some of these great American teams nominated, but there is going to be great competition this year, so we will have to wait to see," Moses concluded, "I think it's going to be a very tough decision to find the winners."