After that thrilling, albeit controversial, conclusion to the 2021 Formula 1 season, it's lights out and away we go for a new year as we get underway in Bahrain this weekend...
The controversy surrounding Max Verstappen's Drivers' Championship triumph has raged on since Abu Dhabi. However, the Dutchman, a worthy winner based on his performances across the course of the season, heads into the new campaign as the champion with a highly motivated Lewis Hamilton leading the pack hunting him down as he continues to pursue a record eighth title.
With the introduction of new regulations and subsequently drastic changes to the cars this year - which should result in increased competitiveness - Formula 1 could actually build on the unrivalled drama of last season.
Verstappen and Hamilton to lead battle again
It seems fitting then that heading into the opening race of the new season, there is almost nothing to split Verstappen and Hamilton in the Drivers Championship Betting, with the Dutchman available at 2.9215/8 and his rival priced at 3.02/1, as the reigning champion is perhaps the stronger option at this stage.
The pair went into that unforgettable finale in Abu Dhabi level on points, and Verstappen ultimately took the title with a narrow eight-point cushion. The expectation is that despite question marks over performance and perennial claims of Mercedes 'sandbagging' in testing, there will be no love lost between Verstappen and Hamilton and they'll be going wheel to wheel at the front of the grid once again.
Beyond the main two protagonists, Hamilton has a new teammate this year in George Russell.
Valtteri Bottas played a key role in Mercedes winning the last five Constructors Championships, making it eight on the spin in total. While he was perhaps a more willing team player and more often than not played second fiddle to Hamilton, Russell will be desperate to impress having landed one of the most sought-after seats in Formula 1.
While that could be good news for Mercedes, who are backed at 2.47/5 to add yet another Constructors Championship to their recent haul, it will be fascinating to see how the dynamic works between the two Brits and if they either complement each other or friction builds, a la Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, as the competition heats up.
Ferrari position themselves to compete
Perhaps the biggest buzz heading into the new Formula 1 season though surrounds Ferrari and what they could produce on the track this year.
It's no secret that they targeted these new regulations to try and get back to the top, and in Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, they have one of, if not the most, talented driver pairings on the grid.
Their third-place finish in the Constructors Championship last season was a big step in the right direction. If they've got it right with their cars this season, which testing over the past fortnight suggests will put them in the conversation at least, Leclerc at 9.617/2 and Ferrari at 4.1 are appealing outside bets.
A team further down the grid who have also targeted the new regulations is Haas. 2021 couldn't have gone much worse for them as the only team to not score a single point. In turn, while we shouldn't expect them to suddenly be competing further up the field after a decent run at testing, perhaps a punt with favourable odds on them scoring points based on their performance in qualifying is one to look out for.
Mercedes hope for strong start at happy hunting ground in Bahrain
F1 Bahrain Grand Prix
Sunday March 20, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports F1, Main Event
While their stranglehold on the Drivers' Championship was broken last season, Mercedes are expected to come under more pressure this year.
Hamilton has won the last three races at Bahrain on the bounce, with Mercedes taking top spot on the podium six of the last eight years. Despite that, it's Verstappen who is favourite heading into Sunday at 2.962/1, and if that Mercedes dominance is broken on the very first weekend of the season, whether it be by Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren or another contender, it would set the scene perfectly for what could be an even more dramatic year.