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 – Fourth place:
Perhaps surprisingly only fourth in the Crash.net
readers' poll of the best Formula 1 drivers of 2008 is newly-crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton – the youngest man ever to lift the laurels at the pinnacle of international motor racing.
That Hamilton was less impressive than he had been during the course of his rookie season in the top flight in 2007 is arguable; that he endured a mixed campaign second time around is not. For the McLaren-Mercedes star, 2008 was very much a year of peaks and troughs, and if most observers agree that the right man ultimately did clinch the crown, they are similarly unanimous that in order to do so he required more than a small degree of luck.
The 23-year-old began the season in imperious fashion, converting pole position into victory in the curtain-raiser Down Under in Melbourne, and history holds that more often than not, he who wins the first grand prix of the year generally goes on to win the championship too. Hamilton maintained that tradition – but boy did he make it hard work for himself.
Following his Australian success, there were four further triumphs over the remainder of the campaign, and a couple of them – Monaco and Silverstone – were quite legendary drives, and saw the Stevenage-born ace accomplish two of his boyhood dreams. Victory in front of his adoring home fans in the teeming rain of the British Grand Prix was quite possibly Hamilton's best performance of the season, as he didn't so much drive away from all of his pursuers as completely out-class them, ascending to a higher plane that nobody else came even close to attaining.
He also reached the top step of the rostrum in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim – another virtuoso showing, as McLaren's risky strategy relied heavily upon Hamilton producing a Michael Schumacher-esque series of qualifying laps in order to pull off the eventual result – and in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, when a peerless performance left Ferrari quite literally gasping for breath.
Elsewhere, though, his season was blighted by a succession of at times inexplicable errors, most notably catastrophically running into the back of the stationary Ferrari of defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's pit-lane during the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Further precious points were lost in Japan, when what can only be described as a drastic effort to atone for a poor getaway saw Hamilton leave his braking impossibly late into the first corner at Fuji Speedway and almost decimate half the field in the process.