2) Daniel Ricciardo
When Daniel Ricciardo was chosen to replace Mark Webber in the Infiniti Red Bull Racing line-up for 2015, no one could have expected the impact the young Australian driver would make, especially his four-time World Champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
His third place in the championship standings was confirmed before the double points finale in Abu Dhabi, and it was not really a surprise that it was Ricciardo who took the three victories in 2014 that did not go to the all-conquering Mercedes team.
But for a technical infringement out of his control in Melbourne, he should have had a home podium in his first race for the team, but finally took his maiden podium finish in the Spanish Grand Prix, and followed that up with another one in Monaco, finishing right on the tail of Lewis Hamilton.
His first victory was hard-fought, and took advantage of the mechanical gremlins that sometimes affected the Mercedes drivers. He managed to pass the ailing Nico Rosberg with just a few laps to go to take one of the most popular wins in recent years. He might have finished only eighth in Austria next time out, but pulled off one of the best overtaking manoeuvres of the season on Nico Hulkenberg with just a handful of laps to go, overtaking the German around the outside of turn five in breathtaking fashion.
Another superb podium followed at Silverstone, making his tyres last longer than anyone expected to finish third, but his second win of the season in Hungary was just as exciting as the first. He was third with only a few laps to go, and made excellent moves on Hamilton and Fernando Alonso on consecutive laps to take the win. He then took advantage of the Mercedes drivers colliding in Belgium for win number three.
Further podiums in Singapore and the United States and a stunning drive from a pit lane start to fourth place in Abu Dhabi confirmed that Ricciardo had arrived on the world stage and was one of the brightest talents in Formula 1. He now takes on the mantle of the leading Red Bull driver after Vettel’s departure to Ferrari, but some may say he was already in that position, having defeated his German team-mate by 238 points to 167 in 2014. Based on his results in 2014, it would be hard to deny that the likeable, smiling Daniel Ricciardo is a future World Drivers’ Champion.