4th – Lewis Hamilton
Average poll score out of ten:7.4
Mercedes AMG Petronas
2nd out of 24
While Lewis Hamilton is unlikely to look back on the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship and label it a success by his lofty standards, there is arguably some consolation to be had for the way he didn't cede his title because he wasn't fast enough.
Indeed, though it wasn't exactly a faultless season for the three-time champion – whether we are talking about man or machine -, Hamilton had no equal on more occasions than his eventual runners-up spot would arguably have you believe.
An evidently frustrating season for the three-time world champion, Hamilton's campaign suffered for its lack of momentum but an error-free Hamilton proved to be an exemplary Hamilton. Unfortunately for him, an almost entirely error-free Rosberg was the small but significant difference in a tight title race.
Hamilton brought his best when he had a target to aim for and it is notable that 7 of his 12 wins (from Silverstone onwards) were dominant lights-to-flag successes. Indeed, Hamilton and Rosberg barely went wheel-to-wheel in 2016 (Austria notwithstanding) and it's worth pointing out many of the German's wins didn't have a direct on track challenge.
That's not to explicitly suggest Hamilton deserved the title more than Rosberg… though there are of course arguments for and against depending on your opinion.
Indeed, while his Malaysian GP blowout and hampering issues at the start of the year certainly set the tone, terrible starts in Italy and Japan were similarly definitive against a title rival that barely put a foot wrong, particularly in the latter stages of the year.
In a tense – at times bitter – tussle with a team-mate where the slimmest of margins could be measured in mental strength to supplement the ebb and flow of their on track battles, Hamilton lost out… not by much, but enough.
Regardless, performances like those he demonstrated at Silverstone, COTA, Mexico and Interlagos represent some of the finest we have seen from Hamilton and while it wasn't enough for the ultimate prize, it still firms his status as one of the best F1 has ever witnessed.
Lewis Hamilton in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year poll
Top 10 F1 Driver of the Year 2015:
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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, progress and personality just as much as race results.
Over 70,000 votes were cast for the 2016 Crash.net
F1 Driver of the Year poll, where viewers awarded each of this year's full-time participants.