It’s been a year to remember for Formula 1 fans this season, with Mercedes AMG PETRONAS dominating with a total of sixteen wins in nineteen races, while Sebastian Vettel proved to be the best of the rest after taking the other three victories.
A scary-looking first lap crash between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in Austria, tributes paid to Jules Bianchi before the Hungarian Grand Prix at the front of the grid and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico hosting its first Formula 1 race since 1992 will be long remembered.
Without further ado, here is my top ten F1 drivers of 2015!
10. Fernando Alonso & Jenson Button
Alonso’s return to McLaren-Honda this season has been poor, with a total of eight retirements. With all this bad luck, the Spaniard hasn’t failed to keep a smile on my face. He has (mainly) made the most of his position on the grid and raced, and not allowed penalties to get him down too much.
My favourite Alonso moment just has to be during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Due to a mechanical failure Alonso couldn’t participate in qualifying so instead decide to sunbathe in the Brazilian sun, perching himself in a marshals chair beside the track. It didn’t stop there in Brazil, Alonso and team-mate Button took to mischief and visited the podium to get their moment of fame after failing to progress from Q1 for the eighth time.
Button also had a disappointing season with new engine supplier Honda in his McLaren. He didn’t allow this to get him down though, finishing the season in sixteenth.
It was nice to see a driver carry on even through extremely tough times with a team. Let’s hope that this year has been a ‘testing’ season for McLaren and the proper race will start next year for them.
9. Romain Grosjean
For Romain’s last year with Lotus it’s been a good one, even with only gaining 51 points. Grosjean believes this has been his best year of his Formula 1 career, in terms of driving and the setting up of the car. Only twice was he outpaced in qualifying by team-mate Pastor Maldonado in 19 races, despite sitting out a lot of FP1’s in favour of Jolyon Palmer.
Even with the troubles of the team, Grosjean has managed to push through it and perform to his best, delivering more than the car was probably capable of. Happy to finish his last season on a high and I hope this good drive carries on into his new team, Haas, next season.
8. Valtteri Bottas
After a amazing year for Bottas last year, this year has been poorer, finishing the season in fifth with 136 points, only achieving two podiums rather than the six last year. He hasn’t missed out on the racing action though with colliding with fellow Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen twice, during the Russian and Mexican Grand Prix.
It was seen to be Raikkonen’s fault in Russia but the stewards couldn’t find no clear fault in Mexico. Even though he hasn’t had a strong year, he still kept fighting through it. Hopefully for the 2016 season, Bottas and Williams can come back with their fighting spirit that they had last year.
7. Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo has continued to make me laugh and smile throughout this season both on the track and off. He’s been in the fighting this year but hasn’t fully been able to perform to the standards we know he can with the car and engine package that was not up to scratch in 2015, with fellow Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat finished just ahead of him in the Drivers’ Championship by only three points.
Ricciardo being one of the drivers to make both of the podiums that didn’t showcase the Mercedes duo in both Hungary and Singapore. With qualifying in Austin postponed due to bad weather conditions, Ricciardo knew exactly what to do to keep the fans entertained while there was no track action, asking Kvyat for a dance in the pits, showing the crowds their feet can move.
6. Daniil Kvyat
Kvyat has had a very strong first season with Red Bull, achieving an impressive seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, compared with his fifteenth with sister-team Toro Rosso last season. Also an impressive podium in Hungary, where he took second ahead of team-mate Ricciardo, this saw neither Mercedes car on the podium.
An impressive run in Spa saw him climb from twelfth to fourth, one of the most impressive runs of 2015 for Kvyat that included a large number of late-race overtaking manoeuvres.
5. Sergio Perez
Perez has said that the 2015 Formula 1 season has been his best year so far, performing better than ever in his F1 career, and out performed highly rated team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. He gained his first 2015 podium at the Russian Grand Prix in third, this also being Force India‘s first and only podium in this season, and only third in their history.
In a strong season finishing eleven times in the top ten, receiving 78 points for the Driver’s Constructors, he showed that he can be both consistent in his driving and extremely fast.
4. Nico Rosberg
Rosberg took a total of six victories this season including dominating the final three races. After a difficult first half of the season, losing out to pole and wins to Hamilton, the hat trick of wins at the end of the season showed that Rosberg can fight for his wins.
When Rosberg puts his mind to it, he showed he could pass Hamilton and carry on throughout the race to win. I hope the fighting spirit from the last three races carries on in Rosberg’s favour and he fights Hamilton for the 2016 World Champion title.
3. Sebastian Vettel
In his first year with Ferrari Vettel had a very strong year, finishing in third behind the two Mercedes with a total of 278 points. Vettel showed that he still has his ‘mojo’ after a difficult season in 2014 with Red Bull that saw him finish behind team-mate Ricciardo.
With a total of thirteen podiums, Vettel has had his fair few share of the champagne, and was the only driver on three occasions to win a Grand Prix that wasn’t one of the Mercedes – Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore. After a disappointing year last year, this year has seen me be happy to see the old Vettel back.
2. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was crowned 2015 World Champion in the United States after taking advantage of a mistake from Rosberg. The tension between the team-mates increased every race, until the moment where it got too much after the United States Grand Prix – Hamilton was seen to be harsh when he threw Rosberg’s second place hat at Rosberg.
Due to a ‘minor’ breakage in his car’s power unit, Hamilton was forced to retire in Singapore but managed to pick it back up when he scored a hat trick of wins in Japan, Russia and United States. After the disappointment of losing out to Rosberg in the last three races, can Hamilton put that behind him and focus on the 2016 season and fulfil his dream of becoming a four times world champion.
1. Max Verstappen
Beating Jaime Alguersuari’s record of becoming the youngest Formula 1 driver to start a race at the age of seventeen, Max Verstappen had a cracking debut year, proving age means very little when it comes to talent. Finishing just outside of the top ten in the Drivers’ Construction in twelfth, three places ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. Verstappen will always hold the title of the youngest F1 driver as the age to receive a super license has increased to eighteen. He has showed skill across the season with some rookie mistakes, but what can you expect from a rookie?
Overtaking drivers in situations that people say only experienced drivers can achieve. Topping the 2015 overtakes list with a grand total of 49 successful passes. To show his successful year, Verstappen was awarded three different awards at the FIA prize giving gala, ‘Rookie of the Year’, ‘Action of the Year’ for his impressive pass on Felipe Nasr at the Belgian Grand Prix and ‘Personality of the Year’. Let’s just hope he can carry on the success into the 2016 season and showcase more his talent, maybe even some podiums.