Hamilton secured his second F1 world title in Abu Dhabi at the weekend and the British driver is expected to be a leading contender for the prize.
Wales winger Bale, who helped Madrid win the Champions League last season in his first year with the Spanish giants, and British Open and US PGA Championship winner McIlroy, a key member of the European team that retained the Ryder Cup against United States, will be also be in the running.
McIlroy is bidding to become the first golfer to win the award since Nick Faldo in 1989.
Athlete Jo Pavey, dressage star Charlotte Dujardin, boxer Carl Froch, visually impaired skier Kelly Gallagher, swimmer Adam Peaty, gymnast Max Whitlock and skeleton bob racer Lizzy Yarnold complete the 10-strong list for the annual prize.
The shortlist was decided by a panel of former nominees, newspaper sports editors and television sport executives.
Bookmakers have Northern Ireland's McIlroy as the early front runner and William Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams said, "Even at this early stage it looks like a two horse race and Rory is already a couple of lengths ahead."
Andy Murray, who won Wimbledon last year, was voted the 2013 Sports Personality of the year and his successor will be revealed, following a public vote, at the awards ceremony in Glasgow on December 14.