Following another thrilling 2016 Formula 1 Drivers' Championship campaign, the sport was left in shock at the sudden retirement for eventual champion Nico Rosberg.
The German steered Mercedes to a title victory by edging out teammate and close rival Lewis Hamilton during a testing and dramatic season on the track.
Rosberg stormed to his maiden world title in November last year, reaching the pinnacle of the sport, but only five days after lifting the gold he announced he was permanently retiring from the circuit.
It was one of the biggest shocks in sport during 2016, as he called time on an impressive career after reaching the top.
F1 will undoubtedly miss the German's talents behind the wheel, but his immediate absence from the racing calendar will also see the sport's main rivalry and storyline come to an end.
Hamilton and Rosberg had been battling for several seasons at the top of the Championship leaderboard, becoming involved in what was a heated partnership at times to say the least.
Though, with reigning F1 champion Rosberg now out of the picture, there's a gap left in the circuit.
Hamilton set to dominate in Rosberg absence?
The world champion won't be around to defend his crown during the 2017 Formula 1 campaign, leading many to believe that the title is already within Hamilton's grasp.
Of course, there is a long, long way to go during the course of any F1 season, but the British driver leads the betting as an overwhelming favourite to prevail.
If he can do so, the 32-year-old would clinch his incredible fourth Championship crown, having also rallied to victory in all of 2008, 2014 and most recently in 2015.
The Stevenage-born Mercedes representative has entered each of the past few campaigns as the front runner to succeed, and it looks even more likely to come true this upcoming term with former stablemate Rosberg out of the equation.
Hamilton has a new teammate, though, in the form of Finnish steerer Valterri Bottas as of the upcoming 2017 season.
The 27-year-old was chosen ahead of a host of other top names to fill the void left by Rosberg, and he faces a tough task of being Hamilton's teammate and Championship rival next term.
Rosberg offers successor Bottas advice
Rosberg knows more than anyone about what it's like to be in that situation, having seen his relationship with Hamilton deteriorate over the years of their intense rivalry.
He sees Bottas having a testing time ahead of him but admitted he has the ability to make an impact next season.
"Don't expect an easy ride," Rosberg stated when asked to offer his successor advice on dealing the situation with Hamilton.
"Lewis is one of the best out there so the level is extremely high. But Valterri Bottas is extremely talented and he can achieve great things as well, as long as the team give him a good car.”
Briton Hamilton looks set to lead the way once again next season and he will be confident he can write himself into the history books by clinching a fourth world title in the absence of former rival Rosberg.