1st – Max Verstappen
Average poll score out of ten: 8.6
Red Bull Racing
5th out of 24
The revelation of the 2015 F1 season, Max Verstappen graduated to a sporting superstar on the back of his initially controversial – but quickly justified – switch from Toro Rosso to Red Bull five rounds into the season.
Indeed, things moved very quickly for Verstappen in 2016 yet he barely put a foot wrong.
Victory on his Red Bull debut in Spain was the fairytale no-one could have expected. Though he will be the first to admit it took some fortune for the stars to align on that day, it does nothing to belittle a remarkable and historic achievement for a driver that - it's already easy to forget - only made his car racing debut two years earlier.
From here Verstappen swiftly established himself as one of F1's elite as though he had always been there Missteps were confined to crashes in Monaco and clumsy races in Spa and Austin, the Dutchman comfortably overshadowing those with a regular stream of podiums, often at circuits that didn't necessarily favour the RB12.
His occasionally unpolished style didn't always sit well with rivals in the heat of battle – neither did his unflappable attitude afterwards – but Verstappen supplemented his edginess with maturity, his podiums in Canada, Austria, UK, Malaysia and Japan as well-thought out as they were exciting to watch.
Indeed, Verstappen appeared to thrive in the face of the adversity of his situations, not only handling pressure with aplomb but often shifting it back to his rivals. His defences divided opinion but at the very least ensured every driver had to think twice about how approach the teenager in a wider-than-ever Red Bull.
Better still, in a year of numerous highlights Verstappen continued to keep surprising, his sparkling performance in the wet in Brazil demonstrating an astonishing level of driver skill that drew comparisons with the likes of Ayrton Senna.
An affinity behind the wheel not often seen in his this more technological age of F1, it concisely summed up Verstappen's season in one race as he battled the elements, battled himself and battled the odds, yet still came home smiling.
The future looks very bright for Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen 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.