After asking you to vote for your leading drivers from the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship season, the time has come to start the countdown to the driver you voted the top star of 2008.
Over the next ten weekdays, we will be revealing the top ten in reverse order, with the winner being revealed on Friday, 28 November.
More than 45,000 votes were cast in the F1 poll, with each driver's average score out of ten then being calculated to decide the winner.
F1 Driver of the Year – Seventh place:
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari STR2B/STR3
He may have finished a lowly 17th in the 2008 Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship standings with just four points to his name, but Sébastien Bourdais still did enough to be chosen by Crash.net
readers as the seventh-best driver of the year – and deservedly so.
Coming off the back of a record-breaking four consecutive Champ Car crowns across the Pond, Bourdais entered the top flight with a sizeable reputation – and, during the first half of the season, that reputation fell to pieces.
Over the first seven races, the Frenchman failed to qualify better than 15th place – on four occasions indeed falling foul of the dreaded Q1 hurdle – and it wasn't until his home grand prix at Magny-Cours in late June that he seemed to somewhat overcome his qualifying jinx in placing 14th on the grid, right alongside his highly-rated team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Though initially struggling to get to grips with Scuderia Toro Rosso's new STR3 introduced in Monaco and admitting to not being a fan of grooved tyres, during the second part of the campaign Bourdais gradually came alive, as his confidence improved and so – dramatically – did his form on-track.
Making the top ten on the grid for the first time for the European Grand Prix in Valencia in August, from then onwards the 29-year-old far more often made it through to Q3 than not, peaking with a superb fourth place at Monza but also shining in Belgium, China and Brazil, as he all-but matched Vettel and even out-qualified the German at Spa-Francorchamps, widely acknowledged as being the greatest drivers' track the world over.
Even more significantly still, there were increasing flashes of the Sébastien Bourdais of his Champ Car days, as the man from Le Mans injected his racing with a feistier, grittier edge, not afraid to run wheel-to-wheel with his adversaries and not one to back down readily in a fight.
That he lost fourth place to an engine failure in the season-opener in Melbourne, and third place – following a superb performance – on the very last lap of the Belgian Grand Prix when a late rain shower struck was cruel fortune indeed; that he was stripped of sixth position when Felipe Massa drove into him at Fuji was perplexing beyond belief.
Regardless of the points taken away from him beyond his control, though, Bourdais improved immeasurably as a Formula 1 driver as the season progressed, and the return to slick rubber and new aerodynamic regulations scheduled for introduction in 2009 should suit him down to the ground. The former International F3000 Champion has an awful lot still to give in F1, and it would surely be an error should STR not give him the opportunity of a second chance to show what he can really do.
Tomorrow: Who did you vote sixth in the Driver of the Year poll?