editors have come together to compile a list of what we think is the definitive Top 50 riders and
drivers in motorsport this year.
Tomorrow we will be counting down to our #1, but in the meantime check out who we have placed 20 to 11...
Let us know what you think!
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 50 - 41
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 40 - 31
Click to see the riders and drivers we ranked 30 - 21
20 – Max Verstappen
11th in the F1 World Championship
The most staggering thing about Max Verstappen's maiden F1 season is arguably the way the entire challenge – be it the driving, the racing, dealing with the politics or persistent questions about his age – completely unfazed him. A mature head for young shoulders, Verstappen instead appeared to flourish under the intense spotlight, the inevitable rookie errors completely negated by a series of stunning performances. Making up for his Toro Rosso's shortcomings with some ballsy driving – and some eye-catching overtakes -, Verstappen ruffled a few feathers and, in doing so, brought a breath of fresh air to a sport that was becoming all-too-stuffy.
19 – Pascal Wehrlein
1st in the DTM
Some may have questioned the wisdom of Mercedes' decision to siphon many of its resources towards Pascal Wehrlein after two unspectacular seasons of DTM, but the young German duly repaid his employers with a stunning title turn in 2015. Making the most of a more competitive Mercedes package and a format change that swelled the schedule to two races per event, the 21 year-old found consistency missing from his team-mates to quickly be established as the manufacturer's nominated title challenger. With that support, Wehrlein subsequently prevailed to show the world exactly what Mercedes knew he was capable of all along.
18 – Nico Rosberg
2nd in the F1 World Championship
With Lewis Hamilton stamping his mark on the 2014 F1 title with a rapid end-of-season turn, it was the Briton's impressive start to 2015 that put this year's championship out of Nico Rosberg's reach this time. Whether he was flinging caps or accusing Hamilton of aggressive driving, Rosberg's appeared to wind himself up steadily in 2015 as Hamilton forged clear, but once the simmering discord peaked in the USA, a calmer, less pressured Rosberg re-emerged in Mexico and showed in the final three races why he deserves to be regarded for more than the dominant car he is driving. That said, 2016 really is the crunch season for Rosberg to prove this on a more regular basis…
17 – Andrea Iannone
5th in the MotoGP World Championship
There was nothing 'crazy' about Crazy Joe's run to the top five in the MotoGP World Championship this season, the Italian marking his first proper season as a full-factory Ducati rider with an impressive year-long performance. Andrea Dovizioso may have come out of the blocks faster, but Iannone's greater consistency would see him assume the mantle as Ducati's #1 rider before long. In a season that would see him notch up a maiden pole position and podium, the Italian would have been top four overall but for a lacklustre run-in to the end of the season.
16 – Jose Maria Lopez
1st in the World Touring Car Championship
Having conquered on his touring car debut in 2014, Jose Maria Lopez produced more of the same in 2015 to reel off another dominant WTCC title for Citroen. Ten wins from 24 races in the Citroen C-Elysee put the championship out of his rivals' reach long before the season's end, the Argentine completing the year with a three-figure advantage over runner-up Yvan Muller.
15 – Kenan Sofuoglu
1st in the World Supersport Championship
After a sobering 2014 season as his team folded around him, Kenan Sofuoglu found a new team and renewed motivation to secure a fourth World Supersport Championship in 2015. Tenacious and steely as ever, Sofuoglu was back to his best on the track this year, but it was matters off track that really tested him following the tragic loss of his new-born child. A terrible burden for a rider that has known much tragedy in his life following the death of his brothers in racing accidents too, the Turk kept competing and bravely triumphed in the memory of his late son.
14 – Danny Kent
1st in the Moto3 World Championship
It's been a long time coming, but Great Britain once again has a GP world champion in its midst. It's been an arduous journey for young Kent, from Moto3 to Moto2 and back to Moto3, but even with his experience he was considered a relative outsider on the Leopard Honda at the start of the 2015. Nonetheless, three wins from the first four races stamped a mark that was never blemished thereafter. A few late missteps in the final races may have brought it down to a finale head-to-head with Miguel Oliviera, but he did more than enough to ensure him as the first Briton to have a name etched on a GP championship trophy since Barry Sheene in 1977.
13 – Juan Pablo Montoya
2nd in the IndyCar Series
Few drivers have had a career as varied as Juan Pablo Montoya, but the Colombian racer came of age again in 2015 by very nearly clinching the IndyCar Series title – 16 years after winning the now-defunct CART championship in 1999! From F1 to NASCAR and back to open-wheel racing, Montoya's impressive return to IndyCar in 2014 spurred an unlikely title challenge in 2015, a famous win at Indianapolis setting him up nicely. Of course, a disappointing end to the year would see his title dreams vanquished by Scott Dixon, but at 40 years old and almost ten years after his ignominious exit from F1, it was quite the achievement regardless.
12 – Ian Hutchinson
3 wins on the Isle of Man TT
Few could begin to imagine the journey Ian Hutchinson has been on in the last few years. Five years after his spectacular success on the Isle of Man TT, 'Hutchy' has had to battle back from the most horrific injuries, making his return to any competition a remarkable achievement in itself. To then come back to the TT in 2015 and reel off three breathtaking wins is nothing short of astonishing… one of motorsport's most endearing fairytale comeback stories.
11 – Brendon Hartley – Mark Webber – Timo Bernhard
1st in the World Endurance Championship
Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard's World Endurance Championship title win may have been very much a team effort, but to Webber's credit, it was his vast improvement over the winter that turned the Australian-Kiwi-German trio into a team worthy of a title challenge. Helped along by the upgraded Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 entry, the trio may have missed out on the Le Mans win and the #18 sister Porsche was arguably faster in the final races, but it was this entry that never missed a beat at the crucial moments to clinch a well-deserved world championship crown.