A new year means a new Formula One season is on the horizon. The first campaign of the 2020s could be one of the closest in recent memory -- here's a list of things we want to see.
Someone makes Lewis work for No. 7
Lewis Hamilton has been sublime in recent seasons, but he's still had things too easy at crucial points. While his first two championships were wrapped up in a tense final race, he clinched in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 with at least two races in hand.
A seventh championship this year would move him level with Michael Schumacher - a record many did not think would ever be matched. Hamilton goes into the new season as clear favourite to do just that, but if he is going to claim an achievement of that magnitude it is only right that he is forced to do so at the wire. After three consecutive years wrapped up with time to spare, F1 needs it -- fortunately for the series, the likes of Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen seem more than up to the challenge if they have the tools to do so.
Ferrari gets its act together
A key to the above happening is Ferrari. The Italian team has had a frustrating couple of seasons - 2018 should have finished with a championship, while it entered 2019 as title favourites after rattling Mercedes during preseason testing. After a disappointing start to the year Ferrari admitted to flaws in the concept of its 2019 car but it showed tantalising glimpses of what might have been at numerous points during the season, but it still remains the best at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Complicating matters is its tense driver situation. The rise of Charles Leclerc last year made for a difficult situation for team boss Mattia Binotto, with Sebastian Vettel quickly losing his place as undisputed number one. Vettel and Leclerc had a few run ins during the season and they collided at the penultimate race in Brazil. Binotto faces the unenviable task of keeping that relationship from disintegrating further -- doing so is essential if Ferrari wants to take the fight to Hamilton and Mercedes across an entire season.
Vettel rediscovers his former self
While the rise of Leclerc was great to see last year, watching Vettel's fall from grace over the past three seasons has been difficult. The four-time world champion has made a habit of spinning at crucial moments in races and last year felt like something of a usurping at Ferrari, with Leclerc breaking out in his debut campaign with the team.
High points for Vettel last year included his drive from 20th to 2nd in Germany and his victory at the Singapore Grand Prix, but great performances have been lacking since he and Ferrari fell short of the title in 2017. The most frustrating thing is that Vettel, at his peak with Red Bull in the early 2010s and on a handful of occasions early in his Ferrari career, was an unstoppable force
Capping everything off for Vettel is that he is in a contract year -- Ferrari has a bevvy of options to pick from, most notably Hamilton, if it wants to move on from the man once seen as the natural candidate to end the Italian team's long wait for a championship.
Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc battles on tap
Some of last year's memorable moments involved the top three teams' standout performers battling each other on track. Whether it was Verstappen and Leclerc's battles in Austria and Great Britain, or Hamilton going wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen in Hungary and Brazil, we had plenty of glimpses of just how good a tight 2020 title fight could be if the top teams are close.
A big driver move
This year promises to be one of the most intriguing driver markets in recent years, with a host of top drivers (including Hamilton, Verstappen, Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo) in the final year of their respective deals. The Hamilton-Ferrari link is a tantalising one, while the future of Verstappen is likely to generate wild speculation of its own the closer we get to him making a decision. Ricciardo might be an interesting protagonist, while the likes of Carlos Sainz and Kevin Magnussen might fancy their chances of moving further up the grid.
Making it all the more fascinating is what lies ahead - the unknown of 2021 and its comprehensive rule change means there is an element of risk to any move a driver wants to make, as next year's competitive order is difficult to confidently predict in any way. One big move is likely to have a cascade effect on the rest of the pieces in the puzzle and a shaken-up grid would be a fitting way to welcome in F1's new era next season.
Lando Norris on the podium
Lando Norris was great value in 2019 on and off the track. The British rookie perfectly suits the new-look McLaren outfit which appears to be well placed to dominate the midfield fight again this season. Norris' endearing 'bromance' with teammate Carlos Sainz became a viral sensation last year -- one of the best images of the year was the British driver joining Sainz on the podium to belatedly celebrate the Spaniard's Brazilian Grand Prix podium.
Norris deserves the chance to stand up there with his own trophy this season. Doing so would only strengthen Norris' claims of a long-term stay with a McLaren team which is already starting to think he is a star of the future.
Alex Albon's first win
It's hard not to be impressed with Albon's career story so far and a win in 2020 would be another great chapter to that tale. He had all but given up on F1 when Red Bull signed him and his debut season involved a promotion to the senior outfit after 11 races at Toro Rosso. He was cruelly denied a maiden podium in Brazil after a clumsy move from Hamilton in the closing stages.
Albon himself has said his biggest task in 2020 is to close the gap to teammate Verstappen, which was large last season - understandably, perhaps, given the circumstances. Give Albon a full preseason with the team and the experience he gained last year and he is in a good position to prove Red Bull's driver programme is in safe hands were Verstappen to walk away at the end of the season.
Renault shows signs of life
Renault finished 2019 in big trouble. The French manufacturer's big-money swoop for Ricciardo was meant to be a signal of its intent, but it spend much of the season floundering and unable to defeat a McLaren team it supplies engines to. Ricciardo has every reason to be second-guessing his decision to move there but Renault has always eyed 2021 as the year it will return to championship-winning form.
A stronger season in 2020 might help rebuild some confidence, not just for Ricciardo but for Renault's board - the company is including F1 in a sweeping review of its activities and it will be easy to shut the operation down entirely if there is no sign of improvement this season.
Haas finds the answers
Haas provided one of 2019's biggest head-scratchers. The American team had a year-long struggle to understand how its tyres and car behaved in certain situations and, one year on from being fifth in the championship, finished languishing down in ninth position. The obvious problem facing the team was that the issue could bleed into its development of the 2020 car.
Most frustrating of all was that Haas clearly had a car with good raw pace, demonstrated by a series of impressive times during preseason and a flurry of impressive performances in the year when its temperamental car found its sweet-spot. Kevin Magnussen remains one of the grid's most exciting drivers to watch and having him back in the midfield mix would be a welcome sight in 2020.