With the ending of one year, and the beginning of a fresh new one, it’s only right that we take a retrospective look at a Formula One season, including a look at just who stood out from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
Badger’s writers were asked to rank their drivers of 2015 from 1st to 5th, with points handed out from 5 for 1st to 1 for 5th, and with the reasons for their decisions
The scores were then tallied up, and here are the top 5 for your consideration – and a Happy New Year to all our readers!
Carlos Sainz – 8 points
Craig Norman: It’s easy for everyone to forget just how quick Sainz was in his first year, considering he was paired with one of the most exciting young talents in motorsport right now. Despite having the lions share or reliability problems, and suffering a monumental shunt in Russia, there’s little proof that the Spaniard doesn’t deserve his place on the F1 grid.
Joe Diamond: Often overlooked in these ‘best driver of the season’ type things, Carlos Sainz had a tremendous debut season with Toro Rosso While all the spotlight was on ‘the chosen one’ in the other side of the garage, Sainz performed exceptionally race-by-race, and were it not for some woeful luck with reliability, the Spaniard might well have shared V-Max’s spotlight more. Bonus points for exceptional beard and wavy locks.
Rob Cureton: Had almost as good a year as Verstappen. Did well under the pressure of having a highly rated team mate in the other garage.
Sergio Perez – 16 points
Craig Norman: Has Sergio found his niche in F1? It seems he’s found his true calling of being the king of the midfield pack, putting in some drives that were simply incredible in terms of extending tyre length to extraordinary levels. If his autobiography needs a title, it’ll simply have to be The Tyre Whisperer.
Rob Cureton: Took a difficult start of the year and turned it around into a very strong finish. Put the Force India in places it had no right to be and stayed there.
Miles Cook: Turned it around this season and put himself back in the shop window, no longer being the man who took a chance at the big time and blew it.
Charlie Eustice: The Sergio Perez of 2015 was a million miles away from the hot-headed variant seen at McLaren in 2013. After so many years of everyone hailing Nico Hulkenberg as the next big thing (a notion he did confirm by winning Le Mans this year), it was Perez, not the Hulk, who led Force India to 5th place in the Constructors’ table, and a fairly fortunate third-ever podium in Russia. For a midfield runner, he did a terrific job.
Laura Leslie: He’s always had the speed but 2015 saw Checo finally find consistency to go hand in hand with it. Superb third in Russia was one of the drives of the year.
Max Verstappen – 35 points
Craig Norman: For me, he was the only reason to tune in most Sunday afternoons. The overtaking prowess this boy (and he will always be a boy in my eyes) has is unnerving, and as much as that move in Belgium is the one everyone is talking about, the ballsy, aggressive move on Sergio Perez at the Senna Esses in Brazil is my stand-out overtake of 2015. Plenty still to come from this talent, especially on this first year’s showing.
Joe Diamond: Fact: Max Verstappen will be a Formula One World Champion. That much became apparent right form the off in 2015, with the 17-year-old racking up a best finish of 4th on his way to 49 points, and evenly more impressively, a chart-topping 49 overtakes come season’s end. Personally, Verstappen’s butt-clenching move around the outside of Felipe Nasr at Blanchimont in Spa was the highlight of the season.
Geoff Collins: There’s still some hype here and room for development, but if I had one of the top four as my number one, I’d take max as my number two. And I wouldn’t want anyone else to have him!
Sebastian Vettel – 38 points
Craig Norman: One of the most fascinating sub plots of 2015 was the renaissance of Ferrari, adn one of the main ingredients to that was the return of the Sebastian Vettel that made us, more than anything else, smile. His transformation from the dominance at Red Bull to the almost people’s champion of Ferrari was fantastic to witness, especially after the emotional first Ferrari win in Malaysia.
Joe Diamond: Sebastian Vettel was often the shining light in what at time was a very dull 2015 season. Taking the fight to Mercedes whenever and however possible, whether that be taking the piss in pressers or proving a threat on track, the once irritating German became a fan favourite in 2015, and rightly so.
Geoff Collins: Great recovery after the horror of 2014. Three wins in anything other than a Mercedes was a result.
Rob Cureton: A smart move to Ferrari at exactly the right time. Got the absolute most out of the car when needed to beat the Mercs. Barely put a foot wrong all year (let’s forget about Mexico shall we?)
Miles Cook: For coming back re-motivated and showing the Red Bull success was no fluke, Vettel really has had a great year. Also, for showing he is the complete driver; able to lead a team outside his comfort zone, like Red Bull was, and play the antagonist role amusingly with Nico and Lewis, and say all the right things about Ferrari next year. Only had one off race, and picked up wins.
Charlie Eustice: Baby Schu assumed the mantle of his compatriot in true 1996 style, by joining Ferrari and winning three races in his first season in red. As well as this, he quickly made himself chief banter-monger in the paddock after unleashing his awesome sense of humour after leaving Red Bull. The only non-Merc winner? Stellar effort.
Laura Leslie: The 4x champ came back with a bang, and found his motivation again after joining Ferrari to complete a boyhood dream.
Lewis Hamilton – 47 points
Craig Norman: The year the Brit’s legacy was established. Of course he had the better car, but he had to beat his teammate Nico Rosberg, and this season he took the job seriously to get the job done in convincing style. The only gripe I have is that he’s more interested in promoting himself as a brand as well as his hobbies, instead of being the ambassador the sport needs right now, but that’s just me.
Joe Diamond: 2015 was a story of vintage Lewis for the most-part, with the Brit serving up a crushing title defence. Nico Rosberg ran him close at times, and on occasion had the edge (particularly late on the in the season), however when it mattered, Lewis delivered. Away from the track, ‘LH44’ continued to expand his, and ultimately F1’s presence on social media and in the public eye, which can only be a good thing for a sport still in the dark ages in such a respect.
Rob Cureton: Drove brilliantly this year. Figured out where his team mate was beating him last year and improved on that to dominate. Would’ve been top spot for me if it wasn’t for drop off in pace towards the end.
Miles Cook: Gets my top vote winning the championship, but also for, this time around, blowing Rosberg into the middle of next week after a tight first year. He upped the game made it look easy, and even managed to fit in new hobbies like fashion and singing. Destroyed the field with ease – yes, he had the best car, but he upped his game.
Charlie Eustice: While he was in easily the best car, it would be foolish to brand Hamilton’s season as anything other than spectacular. Had the upper hand in qualifying over his teammate, unlike last year, and thanks to this he didn’t really have to overtake anyone all year.
Laura Leslie: Stormed to title number three after blitzing team-mate Rosberg for much of the year. Motivation seemed to wane slightly after title was won however.