Top 10 F1 Drivers of the Year 2012: 3: Lewis Hamilton
Birthplace: Tewin, Great Britain Birthdate: January 7, 1985 Team: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Car: McLaren-Mercedes MP4-27 2012 starts: 20 Wins: 4 Poles: 7 Podiums: 7 Fastest laps: 1 Championship points: 190 Championship position: 4th F1 Driver of 2011 position: 11th

After the nightmare of 2011, it remained to be seen which Lewis Hamilton would turn out for 2012 but, with his personal life more settled, the Briton was back to his irrepressible best on track.

Even when pit-stop problems appeared to cost him better results in the first half of the season, Hamilton was something close to a PR dream as he accepted that 'that's racing' on more than one occasion. Such issues limited his potential in the opening rounds where, despite twice qualifying on pole, he was limited to a trio of third-place finishes to kick-off the campaign.

Despite being the king of qualifying - with eight fastest times on a Saturday (one of which was lost to the fuel regs in Barcelona) - it was astounding that Hamilton had to wait until Montreal for his first win. After China, he twice managed only eighth place - including his fightback from the rear of the grid in Spain - before improving to fifth in Monaco, and then finally broke back onto the top of the podium at one of his favourite, and more successful, venues.

The Briton kept himself in distant touch with the title fight with further victories in Hungary and Italy as the European season ended, but could have had as many as eight wins on the year had fate not intervened.. He was denied the top step of the podium by gremlins in both Singapore and Abu Dhabi effectively settling his championship aspirations and, in the case of the former, potentially deciding his 2013 plans as well.

Twitter traffic - particularly posting set-up data from Spa - hinted at the battle of wits over a new McLaren contract, but many felt that he would still stay at Woking before news of a three-year deal at Mercedes broke prior to Suzuka. With the weight of decision off his shoulders, Hamilton shrugged off further unreliability in both Japan and Korea to add to his points tally, as he did in India, before turning in a sublime performance to hunt down Sebastian Vettel in the USGP to stand on top of the first ever Hamilton-Vettel-Alonso podium result.

He could also have won in Brazil had it not been for a Nico Hulkenberg error, but next year probably won't be so successful.

Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2012 results so far: 4. Sebastian Vettel 5. Jenson Button 6. Nico Hulkenberg 7. Mark Webber 8. Sergio Perez 9. Felipe Massa 10. Kamui Kobayashi