2020 was the year that Max Verstappen matured and highlighted beyond all doubt that he is ready for a title push. His Red Bull equipment let him down at times, but the Dutchman was the only driver close to Hamilton’s level.

A remarkably consistent start to the year and run of nine podiums from the opening 12 races kept Verstappen without touching distance of a potential championship challenge, but five costly retirements ultimately ended his hopes.

DNFs through no fault of his own in Austria, all three rounds in Italy and the second race in Bahrain left the paddock wondering what could have been from a season he ended just 9 points behind Bottas.

SEE ALSO: The top 10 F1 drivers of the 2020 season: 3 - Sergio Perez 

Verstappen proved a constant thorn in Mercedes’ side, often splitting Hamilton and Bottas in qualifying and overhauling both to claim victories at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix and season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the latter of which he also took a brilliant shock first pole position of the year.

Turkey aside, where Red Bull got the balance of his RB16 completely wrong which in part led to a spin en route to a sub-par sixth place, Verstappen got the maximum out of every weekend this year.

With a faster start out of the blocks from Red Bull and better reliability, Verstappen would be a menace to Hamilton’s bid to become the outright most successful driver in history next season.

Could 2021 finally be his year?

You may have already guessed it, but return on Christmas Day as we reveal our driver of the 2020 F1 season…