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 – Third place:
A handful of races into the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship, Fernando Alonso was publicly bemoaning the lack of competitiveness of his Renault and describing it as only the eighth-quickest car on the grid – out of ten.
Fast forward several months, and the same Alonso notched up more points over the second half of the season than any other driver – meaning had the title been determined by the final nine races alone, he would have clinched his third championship crown. How times change.
Qualifying a lowly eleventh for the curtain-raiser Down Under in Melbourne was an indication of just how much work lay ahead for the Régie
over the balance of the campaign, and only the Spaniard's determination and canny ability to stay out of trouble enabled him to claim fourth place at the chequered flag. The problem was, until the Hungarian Grand Prix almost five months later, in terms of results that was about as good as it got.
More happily, whilst Renault's fortunes took a while to improve, the pace did at least step up a gear, with Alonso pulling arguably the lap of the season out of the bag in front of his adoring home fans in Barcelona to line up a barely-believable second on the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix in April, ahead of title protagonists Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica and eventual world champion and former McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Though the engine would go on to let the 27-year-old down during the actual race, it was nevertheless a sign that things were on the up.
Indeed, only three times in 18 outings did the man from Oviedo fail to make the top ten on the starting grid – and on one of those occasions, in Singapore, it was completely out of his hands, with some observers having even tipped him to steal pole position. What's more, Alonso was the only driver in the field to out-qualify his team-mate – rookie Nelsinho Piquet – in every single race. If anyone had any remaining doubts about just how well the 21-time grand prix winner performed in 2008 and how strongly his motivation continued to burn with an uncompetitive car at his disposal, that statistic alone should have put them firmly to bed.
Whilst on-track results were relatively sparse over the first half of the year – Alonso counting a paltry 13 points from the opening ten grands prix – over the remaining eight he notched up 48, never finishing lower than fourth and in Singapore and Japan in particular producing two of the very finest showings of his glittering F1 career. In the former the double world champion refused to let an engine failure in qualifying sway his focus, as he took full advantage of a safety car period in the sport's inaugural night race to bring himself into play using all of his guile, experience and speed.