He may only have been able to secure second spot in the official Formula One standings in 2009, but something about Sebastian Vettel prompted Crash.net readers to vote him in as the best driver in this year's field.

After a slow start, when he failed to score in either Australia or Malaysia, the young German - embarking on his first full season with a front-running team thanks to Adrian Newey's success with the RB5 - hit back with victory in tricky conditions in China and second place in Bahrain to get his pursuit of Jenson Button underway in earnest.

Thereafter, however, it was a case of what might have been for Vettel, whose speed was never in question after topping the pole and fastest lap counts. Luck and racecraft occasionally deserted him and, having refused to yield to the faster Robert Kubica when battling over second in Melbourne - with the result that neither scored after contact - Vettel then crashed out of a top eight spot in Monaco and made a mistake that handed Button the ten points in Turkey.

Although he made some amends by winning four races in total - adding Britain, Japan and Abu Dhabi to China - and taking four other podium finishes, he ultimately fell eleven points shy of matching Button's total. However, with the continuity of staying with Red Bull Racing in 2010, despite the interest of Mercedes, and another front-running combination likely from Newey's pen, many are making Vettel the early favourite for the next F1 crown.

Statistics in 2009:

Championship finish: 2nd

Starts: 17

Victories: 4

Pole positions: 4

Fastest laps: 3

Podiums: 8 (including wins)

Points: 84

Points finishes: 12

Top ten grid positions: 16