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 40 to 31...
Let us know what you think!
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 50 - 41
40 – Sergio Perez
9th in the F1 World Championship
A coming-of-age season for Sergio Perez, he called upon a multi-faceted skillset in 2015 to deliver his best F1 campaign yet in challenging circumstances. Eking the maximum out of the interim VJM08 until the more competitive B-spec arrived, Perez flourished with more accomplished machinery beneath him. Flashes of form became more frequent in the second-half of the year, culminating in headline-grabbing performances in Belgium, Russia and Abu Dhabi, the confidence he lost in that troubled McLaren campaign returning in the relative comfort of a maturing Force India team.
39 – Felix Rosenqvist
1st in the European F3 Championship
Given its junior category status, being considered a 'veteran' in the European F3 Championship isn't seen as a virtue, but at least Felix Rosenqvist put experience to good use in 2015 as he reeled off the title at a canter. Having made his European F3 debut in 2011 (when it was still known as the Euroseries), Prema Powerteam's Rosenqvist was impressive in the first half of the year, then faultless in the second-half, his 13 wins and 24 podiums crushing the opposition. Back-to-back Macau GP wins simply proved to be the cherry on top.
38 – Kyle Busch
1st in NASCAR
With his entire season appearing to be doomed after he missed the first 11 races of the year with a broken leg and foot courtesy of a nasty crash at Daytona in February, a spell of four wins from five races in the summer put Kyle Busch right back in title contention. He won only once more in 2015 but – crucially - it was at the Homestead finale. The success would ensure him of a first Sprint Cup championship at the end of a most remarkable fairy tale comeback.
37 – Daniel Ricciardo
8th in the F1 World Championship
Everyone's favourite underdog in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo shouldered more responsibility in 2015 but he struggled to wring the best from the compromising Renault-powered Red Bull RB11. With the underpowered engine proving a season-long Achilles heel, Ricciardo soldiered on and delivered fine performances where the otherwise sweet-handling car could capitalise, notably Spa, Hungaroring and especially Singapore. An uphill battle all season, Ricciardo's trademark grin may have been turned to a frown more than once in 2015, but his effort-levels never once dipped.
36 – Hayden Paddon
9th in the World Rally Championship
After a few years of sporadic WRC appearances in a variety of machinery, Hayden Paddon was handed a golden opportunity to impress in 2015 when he landed a full-time drive with Hyundai… and he took full advantage. In a championship where experience often trumps speed, Paddon had enough of the latter to belie the former, battling for victory in Rally Italy Sardinia and turning in top five performances in Poland, Australia, France and Wales. By the end of his first season, the Kiwi was just six points shy of a top five finish overall and top Hyundai driver.
35 – Esteban Ocon
1st in the GP3 Series
With the man he beat to the 2014 European F3 title, Max Verstappen, making the headlines in F1, his Lotus development role usurped by pay-driver Carmen Jorda and no clear deal in place coming into 2015, Esteban Ocon had good reason to feel irked ahead of the new season. Fortunately, sense prevailed eventually when he was snapped up by Mercedes' junior programme and placed in a plum ART GP3 seat, the Frenchman taking full advantage to deliver another high profile title win. Though a solitary win represents an unorthodox route to a title, the fact Ocon missed the podium in just four of the season's 18 races speaks volumes about his unflinching pace, consistency and maturity – rare commodities in a young driver.
34 – Luca Ghiotto
2nd in the GP3 Series
Esteban Ocon may have won the title, but there are many that feel Luca Ghiotto and Trident deserved it more. Joining GP3 after an undistinguished season in FR3.5 with a team that scored just one top ten finish in 2014, Ghiotto wasn't exactly shortlisted as a title contender initially, but he would soon usurp the favourites. With Ocon basing his title tilt on unwavering consistency, Ghiotto was relentless at times in 2015 as he surged to five wins. Had a technical issue not prevented him from starting from pole position at Monza (where he was a full second faster than anyone else in qualifying and went from last to third in the short sprint race), Ghiotto would almost certainly have been crowned champion.
33 – Earl Bamber
Winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours (LMP1)
Arguably one of the most talented drivers never to get a fair crack at international single-seaters, Earl Bamber finally enjoyed his moment in the spotlight this year as part of Porsche's stunning Le Mans 24 Hours win. Though Nico Hulkenberg hogged the headlines by way of his F1 status and Nick Tandy was singled out for his stunning stints, it should be pointed out that Bamber – at 25 – was competing at Le Mans for the first time. With Porsche scaling back its Le Mans entries for 2016, it would be a travesty if the young Kiwi doesn't get the chance to defend his title.
32 – Daniil Kvyat
7th in the F1 World Championship
With Red Bull suffering its first win-less F1 season since 2008, it occasionally became difficult to look beyond the team's decline when evaluating their drivers, but Daniil Kvyat emerged as something of an unsung hero this year. Max Verstappen may have re-written F1's rookie rules, but it's easy to forget Kvyat's career is also in its infancy and this year he had to persevere with heightened expectations whilst driving the temperamental RB11 in place of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. Early slip-ups notwithstanding, Kvyat proved a match for Daniel Ricciardo, eventually getting the better of him in the overall standings. Kvyat's podium in Hungary may have stolen the headlines, but his charge in Belgium and his pace in Mexico successfully belied his minimal experience.
31 – Gordon Shedden
1st in the British Touring Car Championship
Three years since his first championship success in the series back in 2012, Gordon Shedden finally scaled his way back to the top of the BTCC pile after producing a near-faultless 2015 campaign – defeating his nearest rival Jason Plato in Hollywood fashion. Armed with the new Civic Type-R, Shedden shrugged off ballast, BTCC's usual panel bashing and the omnipresence of Plato to be crowned champion in a thrilling final event blockbuster at Brands Hatch.