Crash.net is unveiling its top 100 drivers and riders from across the motorsport world from 2019 with a countdown on each day until New Year’s Eve! Check back tomorrow for the final part which reveals the top 20-1 entries, and let us know in the comments if we’ve made the right choices.

40. Lando Norris – 11th in Formula 1

Lando Norris arrived in F1 surrounded by a huge amount of hype and expectation following a hugely successful junior career that had seen him win a plethora of titles and earn a drive with one of the sport’s most famous teams for 2019. And he did not disappoint in a remarkable rookie season. Norris performed admirably against McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz Jr, with little separating the pair throughout the year. Both drivers were key in the team’s resurgence to claim ‘best of the rest’ status with fourth in the constructors’ championship to head the midfield pack. Norris was particularly outstanding in Bahrain and Belgium, where he was set for a career-best fifth place finish until late engine drama cruelly robbed him on the final lap.

39. Robert Shwartzman - 1st in FIA Formula 3

Robert Shwartzman’s march to the F3 title was built upon a remarkable show of consistency. The Russian driver scored at least 10 points per meeting, and had just one round - Hungary - where he didn’t score a podium. Wins in Spain, France, and Monza sent him on his way to the title, secured on home soil in Sochi. In the battle to be Ferrari’s top academy member, Shwartzman has the most momentum heading into 2020 and his debut in Formula 2.

38. Jack Miller - 8th in MotoGP

A year where Jack Miller made a step up in MotoGP. With Danilo Petrucci stepping up to the factory Ducati squad, the Australian rider became the de facto Pramac Ducati team leader and made it count with his most consistent and impressive campaign so far in the premier class. Four podiums and only four DNFs put Miller inside the top eight in the overall riders’ world championship for the first time in his career as he finished just nine points behind the great Valentino Rossi. Miller also handled a mid-season disturbance of Jorge Lorenzo linked to his Pramac Ducati place for 2020 with fortitude.

37. Michael van der Mark - 4th in World Superbikes

After a superb 2018 Michael van der Mark had high expectations this year and while he was still able to deliver a similar consistency - plus a stunning Jerez round with one win and two runner-up finishes - he was outscored by Pata Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes. In the Dutch rider’s defence against Lowes the damage was done when he was forced to miss the Misano races with a wrist injury after topping Friday practice at the Italian track. But on his return to action at Donington Park and Laguna Seca the injury was still hampering him which triggered a small mid-season dip. van der Mark also impressed once again at the Suzuka 8 Hours and Sepang 8 Hours despite missing out on victory in both races. 

36. Brad Binder - 2nd in Moto2

An impressive third season in Moto2 could have resulted in Brad Binder capturing the world title had KTM not struggled to adapt its chassis with the new Triumph engines earlier in the season. No podiums from the first seven races was followed by four wins and four additional rostrums across the final 12 rounds but ultimately the South African rider couldn’t turnaround the points margin to Alex Marquez. Despite seeing the Spaniard seal the Moto2 world title at the penultimate round at Sepang, Binder ended the campaign just three points behind in second place. A promotion to the factory Red Bull KTM MotoGP team awaits for 2020.

35. Kazuki Nakajima - 1st in WEC LMP1 2018/19, 24 Hours of Le Mans winner

After 2018 saw him take victory at Le Mans some four years after his heart-breaking last-lap stoppage, 2019 was the year Kazuki Nakajima won it all. Alongside Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi, he wrapped up the WEC LMP1 title in style with three straight wins to close out the season (even with a stroke of luck for a second Le Mans victory). Another win at Fuji acted as a boost to hopes of a second championship win to close out the LMP1 era heading into 2020.

34. Alex Lowes - 3rd in World Superbikes

By far the most consistent World Superbike campaign of his career so far, Alex Lowes might have missed out on any wins but nine podiums across 2019 almost doubled his career rostrum haul in the series. A hat-trick of third places in Thailand plus two more in Qatar were highlights, while the low points came when he suffering with illness he was taken out by Jonathan Rea in Race 1 at Jerez which wrecked his weekend. Like Michael van der Mark, lost his and Yamaha’s winning stretch at the Suzuka 8 Hours but second place is still a respectable effort.

33. Kamui Kobayashi - 2nd in WEC LMP1 2018/19

Even when Toyota has finally got in a position to win at Le Mans, it can’t do so without some kind of drama. Just ask Kamui Kobayashi, who did his fair share in the #7 car through this year’s 24-hour race, only for two late issues to deny the crew victory. It marked Kobayashi’s third P2 finish at Le Mans. Still, he has started the new WEC season strongly with wins at Silverstone and Bahrain to lead the standings at the halfway point of the season, and victory in the Rolex 24 means it was still a year of some success for Kobayashi.

32. Martin Truex Jr. - 2nd in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Even with an off-season move from Furniture Row Racing to Joe Gibbs’ team, Martin Truex Jr. remained a potent force in the NASCAR world - if anything, even better than before. Truex scored seven wins through the year - more than any of the other title contenders - including back-to-back victories at Las Vegas and Richmond. Truex fell just short in the season finale at Homestead, crossing the line second behind Kyle Busch after a pit error set him back.

31. Peter Hickman - x3 Isle of Man TT wins, x2 Isle of Man TT podiums, 1x North West 200 win, 6th in British Superbikes

Another history-making year for Peter Hickman who continues to cement his place at the top on both the roads and in British Superbikes. Hickman’s highlight of 2019 must be his trio of Isle of Man TT wins which came in the Superbike, Superstock and second Supersport races - while rewriting the record book at the Ulster Grand Prix by winning seven races in a day is also a clear standout moment. The Smiths Racing BMW rider was denied the near-perfect TT when an overheating Superbike engine in the Senior TT lost him vital time against Dean Harrison, with Hickman pointing blame at the scuinteers for denying him the use of his preferred stock engine with the new S1000RR. On the short circuits, Hickman made a third consecutive BSB Showdown appearance on his way to sixth overall in the riders’ championship.

30. Rene Rast – 1st in DTM

With no Mercedes following its decision to withdraw and focus on its Formula E programme, the 2019 DTM title battle ultimately came down to an exclusive showdown between Audi drivers. Rene Rast was the class of the field as he stormed to his second DTM drivers’ crown, picking up seven victories in total. A run of five consecutive podiums (including three wins) helped Rast seal the title in style, as he finished a whopping 72 points clear of three-time race victor Nico Muller. 

29. Alexander Rossi – 3rd in IndyCar

After finishing runner-up to Scott Dixon in 2018, Alexander Rossi once again turned in a sublime campaign to be one of the championship protagonists. On this occasion, Rossi ended up third and 33 points adrift of Josef Newgarden, who secured his second IndyCar title. Despite not being his most successful on paper, arguably Rossi’s fourth year in IndyCar was his strongest yet. He led Andretti’s charge throughout the campaign with two victories, two poles and 12 top-10 finishes from 17 races and narrowly missed out on a second Indianapolis 500 triumph with another brilliant display at the Brickyard. Getting caught up in a first-lap tangle at Pocono was a pivotal moment as Rossi ultimately saw his title hopes dashed. 

28. Mike Conway - 2nd in WEC LMP1 2018/19

There’s a strong case for Mike Conway being the best sports car driver in the world through 2019. He was the ace in the #7 Toyota crew at Le Mans as they narrowly missed out on a maiden win, having also fallen just short in the Rolex 24 at Daytona back in January. Conway showed few signs of wallowing in the defeats, though, taking wins at Silverstone and Bahrain to start the 2019-20 WEC campaign strongly. A maiden title in 2020 would be no less than the Briton deserves, given that he remarkably has no championships to show for his best year yet with Toyota.

27. Lorenzo Dalla Porta - 1st in Moto3

After demonstrating his promise in 2018, Lorenzo Dalla Porta delivered this year by capturing the Moto3 world title. The Italian rider built on his solid first year at Leopard Racing to become the most consistent rider of the title contenders with only two non-scores all season. Four wins and seven further podium finishes saw Dalla Porta as the class of the Moto3 field with his victory in Phillip Island the ultimate highlight as it clinched the world title with two races to spare. The 22-year-old heads to Moto2 for 2020 with the Italtrans Racing Team.

26. Kyle Busch - 1st in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Kyle Busch wrapped up his second NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2019 with a consistent (if undominant) season. Busch placed outside of the top 10 just once in the opening 16 races, and while he won just once between Pocono and the end of the season, it was the one race he had to win: the finale at Homestead, which crowned him champion for a second time.

25. Nick Cassidy - 1st in Super Formula, 2nd in Super GT

After finishing second in both Super Formula and Super GT in 2018, Nick Cassidy almost went one better in both this year - but had to make do with just the Super Formula title. Victory at Suzuka gave him a good platform to start the season, with three further podiums - including P2 in the finale - being enough to beat Naoki Yamamoto to the title. He almost did the double, losing out by just two points in the Super GT title race alongside Ryo Hirakawa.

24. Alexander Albon - 8th in Formula 1

Alexander Albon made the most of his unlikely chance in Formula 1 with a sensational rookie campaign, having initially agreed a deal to race in Formula E for 2019. The British-born Thai racer had never turned a wheel in F1 machinery prior to the start of the calendar but ended the season at Red Bull after impressing the senior team enough in the first half of the campaign to promote him into Pierre Gasly’s seat. There were some exceptional drives in both Toro Rosso’s and Red Bull’s cars and Albon only finished outside of the top six once in nine races for Red Bull - the result of being taken out by Lewis Hamilton in Brazil while on course for a maiden podium. There were rookie mistakes along the way, including some silly crashes, but Albon performed admirably in 2019 and is deserving of his full-time Red Bull drive for 2020.

23. Alex Rins - 4th in MotoGP

This year Alex Rins stepped up to join the top class in MotoGP thanks to his breakthrough maiden wins which came at the Americas and British rounds. The victorious Silverstone duel against Marc Marquez stands out as an incredible moment as the 24-year-old demonstrated he could take it to the reigning world champion. Fourth place in the final MotoGP riders’ standings still marks a positive year for Rins before fading late on, having briefly been a title contender during the summer rounds, as the Spaniard looks to add consistency in 2020 having claimed only three podium finishes all season.

22. Nyck de Vries - 1st in Formula 2

Nyck de Vries had little reason not to shine in F2 this year given his experience and his move to ART, but few would have expected him to dominate as he did. Early season struggles were wiped away with victory in Monaco, setting the Dutchman off for a scintillating run through the remainder of the season. Eleven podiums from the final 17 races put de Vries well out of sight of his rivals in the title race, and while a move to F1 has not followed, he looks well-placed with Mercedes in Formula E for the future.

21. Sebastien Ogier - 3rd in World Rally Championship

The six-year reign of Sebastien Ogier at the top of the rallying world came to an end in 2019 as the Frenchman slipped to third in the WRC standings. Having returned to Citroen, Ogier started the season strongly with victories at Monte Carlo and Mexico, but paid the price for two retirements and just two podiums in the final six rallies of the season. Given the form of eventual champion Ott Tanak, Ogier was powerless to retain his crown without more wins under his belt.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...