Over the past five days, Crash.net has been unveiling its top 100 drivers and riders from across the motorsport world from 2018. New Year's Eve marks the final part as we reveal our top 20, ending with the #1 racer in the world this year. Let us know in the comments if we’ve made the right choices.

20. Sebastien Buemi – 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1st; WEC LMP1, 1st (season ongoing); Formula E, 4th

Sebastien Buemi somehow ended up empty-handed in 2017, failing to win Le Mans, the WEC title, or a second Formula E crown, but recovered in style through 2018.

The Swiss driver finally put to bed the bad memories of 2016 as he teamed up with Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima to win Le Mans for the first time. Victory at Spa and podiums at Fuji and Shanghai put Buemi in the joint lead of the WEC LMP1 drivers’ standings heading into the new year.

Top 10 Moments of MotoGP 2018

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Buemi had a less fruitful time in Formula E this year. His late defeat to Felix Rosenqvist in Marrakesh was as close as he would get to a win as Techeetah and Audi stole a march on the Renault team, which has since become Nissan for the new campaign. But Buemi once again proved himself to be an adept all-rounder, and, more crucially, one of the quickest men on four wheels.

19. Alexander Rossi – IndyCar, 2nd

Alexander Rossi spent his first couple of years in IndyCar bubbling under as a future star, most notably winning the Indianapolis 500 on debut in 2016, but 2018 marked his true arrival in the series.

Hopping over to the fully-fledged Andretti Autosport stable, Rossi hit the ground running this year with podiums in St. Petersburg (after a clash with Robert Wickens when fighting for the win late on) and Phoenix before an emotional victory at Long Beach in his home state of California.

P4 in the Indy 500 followed by wins at Mid-Ohio and Pocono thrust Rossi into title contention against Scott Dixon, only to lose out at Sonoma after early contact dropped him out of the fight.

This was nevertheless Rossi’s strongest year in IndyCar to date, marking himself out as one of the top tier drivers, capable of performing across all kinds of tracks. Expect him to be at the sharp end once again next year.

18. Valentino Rossi – MotoGP, 3rd

Valentino Rossi’s first winless MotoGP campaign since his Ducati days six years ago might be an argument to see ‘the Doctor’ lower on this list, but given Yamaha’s own struggles it was a surprise to see the Italian as Marc Marquez’s closest title challenger up until the final few rounds of the year.

Five podiums and one pole position, along with no wins, remains a modest return but Rossi’s unwavering consistency to maximise his result despite suffering for outright performance against his rivals ensured he finished inside the top six in 13 out of 18 races – a record only bettered by Marquez.

But without tasting victory champagne in 2018, going closest in Malaysia where he crashed out of the lead, it means the year will go down as one of Rossi’s toughest of his career.

17. Jorge Martin – Moto3, 1st

Ever since his switch to the Del Conca Gresini squad at the start of 2017, Jorge Martin had always been tipped as a title contender in Moto3. Last year’s effort was heavily hampered by injury as he missed two key races in Germany and the Czech Republic to see the Spaniard finish the year in fourth place.

In 2018, Martin avoided both prolonged injuries – but did miss the Brno race again – and converted his 2017 podiums into race victories to see him set the early pace with triumphs in Qatar, America, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.

With Marco Bezzecchi maintaining the pressure, Martin produced a vital pole position and victory at Aragon to give himself a comfortable points cushion heading to the pressure-filled flyaway races.

A crash in Japan, coupled with Bezzecchi’s win, threw the momentum to his title rival but a fifth-place recovery in Australia followed by victory in Malaysia saw the Spaniard wrap-up the world championship with one round to spare.

16. Sebastien Ogier – World Rally Championship, 1st

A sixth consecutive WRC world title but by far the toughest of his career. A fifth straight perfect start with victory at Rallye Monte-Carlo was followed by a poor Rally Sweden but the defending champion recovered with back-to-back wins in Mexico and France to take a firm grip on the title.

But that grip loosed drastically with just a single podium (second place in Sardinia) across the following six rounds to see Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville take the lead in the standings.

Ogier and M-Sport Ford dug in at the team’s home event for victory in Wales which was followed by second place in Spain, but with Sebastien Loeb winning as a non-title threat, the defending champion regained the points lead heading to a dramatic finale in Australia.

Keeping the pressure on both his chasing rivals Neuville and Ott Tanak, the situation saw both crack and allow Ogier to ease off for fifth place and with it a sixth WRC crown.

15. Lucas di Grassi – Formula E, 2nd

Lucas di Grassi had a real shot at becoming Formula E’s first multiple champion as Audi displayed impressive pace through pre-season – only for reliability to prove costly.

Through five races, di Grassi had just three points to his name, leaving him 78 points back in the title fight. But after Audi got to the bottom of its recurring reliability woes, the Brazilian went on a remarkable run of form that saw him take seven straight podium finishes, made up for five P2s and two wins.

While it wasn’t enough to deny Jean-Eric Vergne the drivers’ crown, di Grassi’s form came in time for Audi to clinch its first Formula E teams’ title, as well as sounding a warning shot to the rest of the Formula E grid.

Di Grassi also dipped into the Stock Car Brasil series through 2018, scoring three race wins.

14. Kimi Raikkonen - Formula 1, 3rd

In 2018 Raikkonen produced his best F1 season of the V6 hybrid era to finish inside the championship top three for the first time since 2012. Despite turning 39 at the latter stages of the year, Raikkonen found a new level of motivation throughout the season and proved to be one of the most consistent drivers.

The Finn scored 12 podiums - matching the total of Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel - one pole on Ferrari’s home soil and finally ended a winning drought that had lasted over five years. 113 races since winning the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, Raikkonen charged to victory at a thrilling United States Grand Prix to seal a memorable win that acted as one of the highlights of an excellent year.

13. Francesco Bagnaia – Moto2, 1st

After an eye-catching rookie Moto2 campaign last year with the Sky Racing Team VR46, many tipped Francesco Bagnaia as a title contender in 2018 but very few expected the dominating form of the Italian.

Eight wins and three additional podiums across 18 rounds, while also scoring points in every race, meant the front-running pace was unrelenting for his rivals. Despite a difficult Australia, where he had his first chance to seal the title, third place in Malaysia finishing directly behind his final title rival Miguel Oliveira enabled the Italian to seal an emotional world championship.

Big things are already predicted for Bagnaia for 2019 with his move up to MotoGP on the Pramac Ducati as he demonstrated his credentials this season.

12. George Russell - Formula 2, 1st

Russell followed up on his title-winning GP3 campaign by triumphing to the F2 championship crown in his rookie season with ART Grand Prix, replicating the achievements of Charles Leclerc in the process.

Fellow Briton and McLaren junior Lando Norris had the most attention surrounding him heading into the new season but it was the Mercedes-backed Russell who stole the headlines in 2018. Despite being hit with a number of mechanically-related reliability woes early on in the campaign, the 20-year-old recovered brilliantly to surge to the title, winning seven races and taking five poles as he elevated himself above the rest of the field and ultimately earned himself a deserved F1 shot with Williams.

11. Sebastian Vettel – Formula 1, 2nd

Sebastian Vettel’s wait to follow in Michael Schumacher’s footsteps and be the man to return Ferrari to its former glories continued in 2018, despite this being his best chance in the last four years to do so.

Ferrari entered the season strongly, with Vettel winning the first two races. Victories in China and Baku could have followed, only for things not to go his way in a sign of things to come later in the year.

Ferrari really hit its stride through the middle of the European season, clearly enjoying a pace advantage over Mercedes. Victory at Silverstone vaulted Vettel into the lead of the championship – and then Hockenheim happened.

A slow-speed crash while leading comfortably ended Vettel’s chances of a maiden Hockenheim win, as well as allowing title rival Lewis Hamilton to complete a remarkable charge from P14 on the grid to take victory and the championship lead.

It was the first of many mistakes from Vettel late in the year, the most notable ones being spins at Monza, Suzuka and Austin in the opening stages that dropped him out of contention for victory. It meant Hamilton could streak clear to win the title with two races to spare, and by his greatest margin of victory with a record points total.

Vettel put in some stunning displays this year which should not be overlooked. But he failed to fulfil the championship-winning potential Ferrari had. Will another chance this good come his way again?

Click on Page 2 to seee our top 10...

 

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