F1 'new boy' Max Verstappen not only made an impact on the sport's fans with his combative style on track, but also won over both his rivals and the media during 2015.
Although the Dutch teenager's ascent to the top flight after only one year of single-seater racing was roundly criticised, he showed that Toro Rosso's decision to pair him with Carlos Sainz was the right one as he challenged for points and a top ten championship position from the start.
He eventually finished twelfth overall, but his performance was enough to earn the Rookie of the Year accolade voted on by his fellow racers, as well as the Personality of the Year award conferred by the sport's media, which he collected at the annual FIA Gala on Friday night.
While that recognition was welcomed by the 18-year old, however, it was his third trophy, for producing the best action moment of the season, that brought the biggest smile to Verstappen's face, as the F1 fanbase selected his 'around the outside' move on fellow rookie Felipe Nasr at Spa's Blanchimont corner as the most thrilling moment of the year.
Despite the corner's fearsome reputation – and the fact that GP2 racer Daniel de Jong had suffered a heavy impact with the tyre wall there the previous day – Verstappen showed no hesitation as he went to the right of the Sauber, braving it out until they reached the Bus Stop, where he had the inside line for the first part of the chicane. The Dutchman admitted later that he had only done what he 'needed to do', but would probably think twice about pulling the same move again.
"I am amazed and very happy to have won three awards this evening, and at the end of only my first year in F1,” Verstappen was quoted by the official F1 website, “It's a great honour to win the Rookie of the Year award, as it's voted for by the Drivers' Commission and, I have to say, getting two fourth place finishes in my first F1 season is more than I expected. Personality of the Year? I'm not sure why I won that, but it's nice to know the media like me!
“However, it's particularly nice to win the Action of the Year [award] for the second time, because I really enjoy overtaking on track."
Verstappen will form part of an unchanged Toro Rosso line-up in 2016, where he and Sainz will get Ferrari power following a difficult season with the Renault V6.