4th Nico Rosberg
Average poll score out of ten: 6.8
Mercedes AMG Petronas
2nd out of 21
Edged out of title contention by Lewis Hamilton in a tightly-contested, if occasionally bitter, inter-team feud in 2014, Nico Rosberg came into 2015 determined to prove he hadn't missed his best opportunity to win an F1 world title.
With the Mercedes once again proving a dominant force over its rivals, Rosberg began the year knowing both he and Hamilton were best placed to pick up from where they left off.
However, while that is exactly what they did, the 2015 season started similarly to how 2014 ended as Hamilton effortlessly stamped his mark on proceedings with wins in three of the opening four races, while Rosberg stumbled out of the blocks to finish arm's length behind him each time.
Indeed, though Rosberg would keep the margin to Hamilton in check by notching up wins in Spain, Monaco (fortuitously) and Austria, his momentum would be losing steam by the end of the summer as failures to capitalise on opportunistic moments in Hungary and Singapore tipped him onto a back foot that he ultimately would never recover from.
With DNFs in Monza and Sochi playing their part in making Hamilton's title a foregone conclusion, a contentious clash during the United States Grand Prix brought the simmering ill-feeling to a head as Rosberg complained about his team-mate's aggressive driving.
Still, - in the run up to that US Grand Prix at least – you would be hard pressed to argue that Rosberg hadn't been comprehensively out-performed by Hamilton on equal footing. Save for his three wins, Hamilton had had the measure of Rosberg all season, a heavily weighted head-to-head advantage reflected in his superior race wins and pole positions.
Which serves to make Rosberg's turnaround in form during the final three races of the season more notable, his dominant pole positions and race wins in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi as comprehensive as Hamilton had produced all year and arguably his most convincing performances as a Mercedes driver. Indeed, excusing his error in the closing stages of that US GP, that too was arguably his most impressively aggressive drive in F1 yet.
All too little, too late of course, but though it does nothing to change the outcome of this year's title battle, in a sport where edges can be measured in minor psychological advantages, Rosberg's heads into the winter in a much better head space than twelve months ago…
Nico Rosberg in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year
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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 drivers.