editors have come together to compile a list of what we think is the definitive Top 50 riders and
drivers in motorsport this year.
Over the coming days we will be counting down to our #1, but in the meantime check out who we have placed 50 to 41...
Let us know what you think!
50 - Valtteri Bottas
5th in the F1 World Championship
After his breakout 'back to front' ascension in 2014, heightened expectations for Valtteri Bottas meant a year of consolidation in 2015 was always destined to be viewed more negatively in comparison. Indeed, the man himself admitted he was disappointed with his 2015 efforts, but against the relentlessly solid – and better funded – Mercedes and Ferrari efforts, Bottas takes credit for being their sternest rival. Three podiums may have paled into comparison to that of 2014, but Bottas would largely have the measure of Felipe Massa and, very nearly, the scalp of Kimi Raikkonen to boot.
49 – Peter Hickman
11th in the British Superbike Championship
1st in the Macau GP
1st in the Ulster GP Superbike
7th in the Senior TT
One of the busiest riders of the 2015 season, Peter Hickman dovetailed his British Superbike commitments by ramping up his burgeoning road racing career. On the track Hickman couldn't quite build on the race winning exploits of his 2014 campaign, but a switch to BMW machinery yielded an improved ninth in the overall standings, with three trips to the podium. On the roads, Hickman built on his 'top newcomer' status from the 2014 Isle of Man TT by finishing a hugely impressive seventh in this year's Senior TT, while he also secured high-profile wins on the Ulster GP and the Macau Grand Prix to stand him in good stead for a factory-backed tilt in 2016.
48 – Andreas Mikkelsen
3rd in the World Rally Championship
Proving himself to be more than just a supporting act to Volkswagen's all-star line-up of Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in 2014, Andreas Mikkelsen came even closer to usurping the latter for the runners-up spot this year as he bolstered his reputation as a potential future champion. Though an agonising last stage error cost him a maiden win in Sweden, Mikkelsen made amends by topping the podium for the first time in Spain. Nine podiums in all would leave him just 12 points short of surpassing his vastly more experienced team-mate Latvala for second overall.
47 – Leon Haslam
4th in the World Superbike Championship
After two unhappy years at Honda, Leon Haslam made a welcome return to the winners' circle in 2015 – five years after he last topped the WSBK podium – as he made the most of his chance on the more competitive Aprilia package. Though cynics argued that the unsigned Haslam was 'right place, right time' when he joined as the title winners left it late to commit to WSBK, a strong start to the year – including a win in Australia – quickly silenced the doubters and gave rise to murmurs of a title challenge. In the end, revised regulations and a slowing in development on the RSV4 as Aprilia trained its attention on MotoGP would count against Haslam, but he gamely racked up podiums throughout the season – and added a second win in Qatar - en route to a fine fourth overall.
46 – Shane Byrne
2nd in the British Superbike Championship
There was a point early in the 2015 season where bookies were preparing to call off all bets on Shane Byrne to lift a record fifth British Superbike Championship title, but in a season of two halves, he would emerge a relatively distant runner-up to arch rival Josh Brookes in the end. Most of Byrne's seven wins came in the opening five rounds, but with the ageing Kawasaki's development hitting a plateau just as Brookes' Yamaha was finding its stride, the Title Showdown was always likely to work against him. Even so, no-one was quicker on the ageing ZX-10R in BSB this year and he was the only rider really capable of making a fight of it against his relentless rival.
45 – Michael van der Mark
7th in the World Superbike Championship
Upgraded from a Ten Kate contract to a fully-fledged Honda deal for 2015, Michael van der Mark could have been forgiven for feeling the pressure ahead of his maiden World Superbike Championship season, but it never told. Though his active riding style wasn't always the best method for a quick lap, it did allow him to make up for a lot of the CBR1000RR's shortcomings in race conditions. While the tools weren't always up to the job, van der Mark showed flashes of star quality en route to his three podiums, which bettered his title-winning team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.
44 – Maverick Vinales
12th in the MotoGP World Championship
From Moto3 to Moto2 and straight into MotoGP, Maverick Vinales made a strong impression on his premier class debut in 2015. Though some may have questioned to wisdom of jumping into MotoGP with the returning Suzuki team, the youngster proved at least a match for his highly-rated team-mate Aleix Espargaro. Indeed, with the GSX-RR proving better sorted than initially expected, Vinales tempered his inexperience with otherwise impressive consistency, failing to score on just two occasions.
43 – Alexander Rossi
2nd in the GP2 Series
19th in the F1 World Championship
After a few stumbles in recent years, Alexander Rossi's career gathered forward momentum in 2015 as he established himself as a GP2 Series front runner before making headlines as the first American driver to start an F1 race in eight years. The closest rival to the dominant Stoffel Vandoorne in GP2, though Rossi's three wins weren't enough to stall the Belgian's steamrolling route to the 2015 title, it did catch the attention of the Manor Racing team, who signed him for five of the final seven races. Despite the learning curve in an uncompetitive car, he largely had the edge over more experienced team-mate Will Stevens.
42 – Kris Meeke
5th in the World Rally Championship
With victory on the Rally Argentina, Kris Meeke brought Great Britain's long WRC victory drought to an end 13 years after the late Colin McRae triumphed on the gruelling Safari Rally back in 2002. A win very much in the memory of McRae and Richard Burns, Meeke's emotional success was a motorsport highlight in 2015. Though costly errors would take their toll on his overall campaign, Meeke was frequently the quickest non-VW driver in 2015, a notable feat given it remains only his second full season in the top flight.
41 – Romain Grosjean
11th in the Formula 1 World Championship
After a torrid 2014 campaign, Romain Grosjean launched himself back onto the podium – and into public attention – in 2015 with a doggedly determined final season with Lotus. Though the E23 was a vast improvement over its unusual 'fork-nosed' predecessor, the financially-motivated lack of development should have seen it slip down the grid as the year progressed. However, Grosjean would resolutely stem the tide with some mighty against-the-odds performances, peaking with a spectacular drive to the podium in Belgium. Renault's loss is very much Haas' gain in 2016.