2nd – Daniel Ricciardo
Average poll score out of ten: 8.0
Red Bull Racing
3rd out of 24
If 2014 was the breakthrough season and 2015 was the sobering one, then 2016 saw Daniel Ricciardo firmly establish himself as a potential champion-in-waiting.
After a troubling – but educational - 2015 season with an uncompetitive car, Ricciardo was similarly modest about his 2016 chances but a solid start to the year would see him in range of Ferrari just as Max Verstappen came on board.
While Verstappen's win straight away could have had the effect of unsettling him, Ricciardo struck back in fine fashion in Monaco. Though it wasn't the win he ultimately deserved and had worked for, on the occasion Red Bull had the strongest car he proved he was champion material in the way he was always in control.
From here Ricciardo's form only dipped on the back of unfavourable circuits and set-up niggles, his seven podiums from the final 11 races far exceeding even his own expectations and earning him a return to the overall top three as 'best of the rest'.
Indeed, while Ricciardo wasn't always as quick as Max Verstappen, he clearly relished the new competition from across the garage and arguably benefitted from it, achieving consistently strong results that largely had the measure of Ferrari and occasionally served to put Mercedes under some genuine pressure.
A return to winning ways in Malaysia may have been fortuitous, but still richly deserved – and hugely popular - not least for offering a teaser of his racing mettle in a thrilling exchange with Verstappen.
As one half of that exciting driver line-up, Ricciardo has a challenge to stamp his mark in Red Bull but came away from 2016 looking ever more a driver that can be champion in the right car… and many feel 2017 could potentially be it.
Daniel Ricciardo in the Crash.net F1 Driver of the Year poll
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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.