1st – Sebastian Vettel
Average poll score out of ten: 8.4
3rd out of 21
You only need to take a glance at Sebastian Vettel's previous results in the Crash.net
F1 Driver of the Year poll to see just how well he has bounced back from a disappointing and disillusioning final season with Red Bull to rediscover his form and your plaudits as a Ferrari driver.
If anything, 2015 would prove the most vindicating season of Vettel's hugely successful career. Though he is already classified as one of F1's most successful racers having reeled off four consecutive world titles between 2010 and 2013, the notion that he 'only' did so because of his Red Bull machinery has all too often been rolled out to dilute his reputation.
With the cynics given plenty of material to work with in 2014 as Vettel – in tandem with Red Bull – fell from grace with the change in the regulations, the bold defection to Ferrari left him with nowhere to hide in 2015. A 'childhood dream' it may have been, but this was still a relative risk for him... albeit one that would certainly reap dividends in terms of more than just mere results.
Granted, Vettel had a better balanced and more powerful car beneath him in 2015, but he was still a determining factor in Ferrari's much celebrated return to the front of the field this year.
At worst bridging the gap to the rest of a field that otherwise couldn't hope to get close to Mercedes, at best proving an irritating thorn in the side of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, it's arguable that Mercedes could have been even more dominant in 2015 than it had been in 2014 without Vettel keeping them honest.
Indeed, each of Vettel's three wins are in contention for 'drive of the year'. His strategically savvy and calculated drive in Sepang gave hope of Ferrari revival early on, while his success in Hungary was as exceptional as it was surprising and his lights-to-flag win in Singapore was as flawless and dominant as any you will see in F1.
With the pressure off, Vettel blossomed in his new role as 'underdog' both on and off track, his witty quips in press conferences and his cheekiness at stoking the ever-simmering rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg winning him plenty of fans in 2015, as did the sheer emotion, passion and impressively fluent Italian that came as a result of his three wins.
With this in mind, though Vettel will likely refute the suggestion that he ever needed to prove himself away from the comfort Red Bull (and in fairness to him, four world titles should have served that purpose), his first year as a Ferrari driver did precisely that anyway…
Sebastian Vettel in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2014:
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2013:
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2012:
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2011:
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2010:
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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.