6th – Daniil Kvyat
Average poll score out of ten: 6.5
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Renault RB11
7th out of 21
Though Max Verstappen may have redefined what it means to be 'inexperienced' in F1, he wasn't the only Red Bull backed driver to be dragged into a harsher spotlight in 2015.
Indeed, Verstappen's predecessor at Toro Rosso, Daniil Kvyat, is still what you would consider wet behind the ears in F1 terms and even more so when you consider he was jumping straight into a premier seat in the Red Bull 'A Team'
After all, while Kvyat showed flashes of great potential in 2014, it was admittedly interspersed by fluctuating form and an inconsistent car. As such, Red Bull's decision to put him in Vettel's sizeable shoes was arguably as bold as what was happening in the sister team.
Though you would be hard pressed to tell by Kvyat's typically unflustered nature, a few races into the season had a few begging the question of whether it was a promotion too soon as clumsy errors were exacerbated by the unwieldy nature of the Renault-powered RB11.
A tough environment in which to develop, Kvyat nonetheless soon began to find his feet and – spurred on by a confident run to fourth in Monaco – swiftly tuned his season around.
Indeed, despite a disparity in their fortunes initially, Kvyat and race winning team-mate Daniel Ricciardo were largely comparable in terms of pace, albeit in very different ways.
While Ricciardo's sheer ability to hustle the car garnered more TV time, Kvyat's smoother driving style – particularly in the wet - flourished as the RB11 evolved, allowing him to turn in a few strategically savvy results by the season's end. In all, he missed the top ten in just four of the 18 races he started.
Of those performances, his second place finish in a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix will be jotted down as the landmark maiden podium, but it was his drive to fourth in Belgium – after a late tyre change saw him charge up the order in the final laps – that arguably ranks as his best, while he would have been third at the unforgiving Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez had a late safety car not allowed the fresher shod Valtteri Bottas to nab it from him.
Though both drivers play it down, Kvyat finishing ahead of Daniel Ricciardo was a just reward for his efforts at getting on top of his early troubles when he could have so easily squandered his chance. Instead, Kvyat simply serves to yet again demonstrate Red Bull's keen eye when it comes to spotting and nurturing talent.
Better still, of all the drivers in top seats at the moment, Kvyat surely has the most still to come…
Daniil Kvyat in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2014:
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About the vote:
Rather than repeat the Drivers' World Championship standings, the F1 Driver of the Year poll asks viewers to take into account factors such as machinery, performance relative to a team-mate, driving style, experience, injuries, progress and personality just as much as race results.
Over 120,000 votes were cast for the 2015 Crash.net
F1 Driver of the Year poll, where viewers awarded each of this year's full-time participants.