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Voting opens for rookie award

The candidates for this year's Autosport Rookie of the Year award have been revealed, with ten drivers from seven championships in contention.

The award, which started in 2000, is voted for exclusively by readers, and can boast four Formula One drivers and an Indianapolis 500 champion among its former winners.

Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Webber, and Tiago Monteiro have all won the award in their rookie F1 season, while Dan Wheldon and Lewis Hamilton have also scooped the prestigious title.

There were several rookies all over the world to make an impact in their respective championships this year, sometimes proving that experience isn't essential to get good results.

In Formula One, Lewis Hamilton shook up the establishment like no rookie before him, and the McLaren driver stunned reigning world champion Fernando Alonso on several occasions as he fought all season for the world championship.

Heikki Kovalainen, another GP2 protege like Hamilton, had a less dramatic first year in Formula One as Renault struggled in 2007, but the Finn came though treacherous conditions in Japan to score his maiden podium recently.

Sebastian Vettel scored a point on his Formula One debut with BMW at Indianapolis, and following a permanent move to Scuderia Toro Rosso, the German added to his tally at China.

Adrian Sutil's season has been tough with Spyker, but Hamilton's former teammate in Formula Three has impressed those who are aware of his equipment deficit to most of the field.

Another star rookie on Grand Prix weekends has been Kazuki Nakajima, who has shown some incredible speed during his first year of GP2, and his performances were impressive enough to earn him a call up to the Williams F1 team for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

A second famous motor racing name shone in GP2 this year, as Bruno Senna belied his relative inexperience in motorsport to win a race early in the season on his way to a solid seventh place in the championship.

In Champ Car, Robert Doornbos managed to briefly snatch the lead of the championship away from the dominant Sebastien Bourdais mid-season, and the Dutch driver has been a consistent frontrunner in the series all year with Minardi Team USA.

Bourdais also came under pressure later in the season as his teammate Graham Rahal became more comfortable with his equipment, and the American edged closer to the front of the field as the season wore on.

After beating Vettel in Formula Three last year, Paul di Resta put in some remarkable performances in a two-year-old car as he made the switch from single seaters to tin-tops in the DTM, and finished fifth in the championship.

Juan Pablo Montoya has spent most of the year as the top rookie during his first full season in NASCAR's Nextel Cup, and the former Formula One star took his maiden win on the road course at Sonoma to add to his Busch Series victory in Mexico.

The winner of the award will be announced at the Autosport Awards Gala evening in London on December 2.

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