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 - Second place:

Name: Felipe Massa Team: Ferrari Car: Ferrari F2008 Wins: 6 Podiums: 10 Pole positions: 6 Fastest laps: 3 Championship points: 97 Championship position: 2nd

Felipe Massa both won and lost the 2008 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship on the final lap of the final race of the season in front of his adoring home fans in Brazil - but despite the crushing disappointment that ultimately befell him, he will arguably emerge an even stronger driver still because of it in 2009.

The Brazilian entered the campaign in most observers' eyes as the number two at Ferrari to reigning world champion team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn having largely had the measure of the sister scarlet pilot for the majority of 2007. Though Raikkonen again began the year looking the quicker out of the blocks of the pair, whilst his challenge soon ran out of steam, Massa rapidly proved that he was in it for the long run - and developed into the title contender few had genuinely thought he was capable of being.

A collision with the Red Bull Racing of David Coulthard in the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne followed by a spin whilst endeavouring to keep pace with Raikkonen a week later in Malaysia left Massa with nul points on the board, however, and just two races into the campaign an ignominious start had again brought the critics out in their droves.

Then, however, came Bahrain - where the S?o Paulista was the defending winner, and where he impressively overcame his jittery opening to the season to once again stamp his authority on proceedings with a flawless victory to get his challenge off the mark. There followed a trio of further rostrum finishes - including a third successive triumph in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul, a race that Massa has all-but made his own since 2006 - and all of a sudden the man who only a matter of weeks earlier had been written off altogether was back in the fight with a vengeance.

Ironically, it was Raikkonen's bad luck in having to surrender first place to his team-mate in the French Grand Prix mid-season with a loose exhaust that seemed to be the catalyst to ignite Massa's own push for glory, and propelled the 27-year-old into the lead of the drivers' standings. From that point onwards, the Finn would not triumph again. The Brazilian did so three times.

Over the second half of the campaign, Massa became embroiled in a fraught scrap with McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton for the drivers' crown, the pair of them more often than not the class of the field and increasingly turning the title chase into a two-horse affair. Both men endured the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune on more than one occasion, and both at some point or other became drawn into the media frenzy that closely tracked their battle.

Massa was widely pilloried following his abject performance in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - spinning an unprecedented five times in the rain en route to a lowly 13th spot at the chequered flag - but he answered those same critics with aplomb on home turf at Interlagos, proving to be uncatchable in the very conditions in which he was supposed not to be able to drive.

The eleven-time grand prix-winner was also peerless in both Hungary and Valencia, in the former being desperately unlucky to be deprived of victory almost within sight of the chequered flag having not put a foot wrong all race. The ten points that he lost that day, his supporters point out, would have comfortably made him world champion. So, undoubtedly, would the ten that went begging in Singapore when the Scuderia's faulty refuelling system struck again - with calamitous consequences.

Question marks remain, however, with off-colour performances at Spa-Francorchamps and in Shanghai arguably earning Massa six points more than he deserved, and his driving in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway - clattering clumsily into both Lewis Hamilton and S?bastien Bourdais during the course of the 67-lap encounter - was reckless to say the least.

And then, in the most dramatic of final showdowns, there was Brazil, where quite simply nobody could live with him. To miss out on the laurels by just a single point having driven his heart out and done all that he possibly could was cruel indeed, but he will bounce back. Have no doubt - Felipe Massa, the man many believed would never challenge for the world championship, will be an F1 title contender for many, many years to come.

Tomorrow: Who did you vote first in the Driver of the Year poll?

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment