2nd – Max Verstappen
Average poll score out of ten: 8.1
Scuderia Toro Rosso
STR 10 Renault
12th out of 21
There are many, many reasons to be impressed with Max Verstappen's first season in F1 – not least his driving style and his ability to learn -, but it was his easy-going, unruffled attitude that really caught the F1 paddock off guard in 2015.
From the moment he unexpectedly signed a deal to move into F1 with Toro Rosso aged just 15 at the time, Verstappen courted headlines, comments and quips aplenty. Yet throughout he has taken all of the attention in his stride and with a shrug…
Confident but never arrogant, ambitious but not foolish, Verstappen's self-assuredness laid the foundation for his performances on track, the Dutchman ignoring the hubbub around him to put faith in his own ability. Indeed, far from being 'too young' or 'too inexperienced' to race in F1, Verstappen showed he was keen and quick to learn, proving straight away that not only was he deserving of such a shot, but that he could be competitive with it.
Whilst one could argue the latest generation of F1 cars are simply too easy to drive, Verstappen still made the hardest tasks look easy. Aggressive overtaking moves and some savvy strategic driving allowed Verstappen to at times negate the Toro Rosso's obvious compromises in spectacular fashion, with his overtakes in Monaco, Belgium, United States and Brazil garnering attention and plaudits.
By the second-half of the season, Verstappen was a regular points' scorer, peaking with a pair of fourth place finishes in Hungary and the United States that far exceeded most expectations. With the benefit of experience, he may well have ended the year inside the top ten overall, a feat achieved by only one other Toro Rosso in the last 10 years – Sebastian Vettel.
Testament to Red Bull's bold (some would say 'blind') faith in giving Verstappen a shot, the teenager made a pressure-laden situation look effortless, and often wearing a smile.
Indeed, if Verstappen felt he had to prove anything in 2015, it was only for the benefit of himself and no-one else… yet even he would say he 'can do better'. Roll on 2016.
Max Verstappen in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2014:
Do you agree with the poll results? Have your say in the comments section below...
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.