After a brilliant year in Formula 1 which featured the most talented grid of drivers in long time it can be difficult to decide who is the best? Of course Rosberg won the title and Hamilton ran him very close but who did the fans most enjoy watching race? Who did you vote for as your ‘favourite driver of 2016’?
The rules where simple: list your favourite top ten drivers from the series Essaar covers, Formula 1, GP2, GP3 and Formula E. Points would be awarded as follows, 1st vote = 10 points, 2nd vote = 9 points etc. EssaarGP would like to thank everyone who voted and the top ten results are listed below. Still disagree? Tweet us with your thoughts on who missed out.
10th: KIMI RAIKKONEN (6th in F1)
Fan favourite Kimi was entering his 14th year in F1 and is still one of the most popular drivers. He may be a different driver to his McLaren days but Kimi showed well against multiple champion Vettel in 2016 scoring 88% of Sebastian’s points.
9th: SERGIO PEREZ (7th in F1)
Perez and Hulkenberg where the most closely matched teammates in F1 in 2016 and the intra team battle certainly helped push the team and the drivers as Force India finished a very credible 4th in the constructors championship. Perez will have to up his game again next year as he will be partnered by the very quick and impressive Esteban Ocon
8th: ANTONIO GIOVINAZZI (2nd in GP2)
Antonio is the only driver from GP2 to feature in our top ten. The Italian driver was looking favourite for the GP2 crown up until the last round when Gasly had a much better weekend in Abu Dhabi and clinched the championship. Giovinazzi’s speed and race craft shone through and he has been awarded a place on the Ferrari Academy scheme.
7th: SEBASTIAN VETTEL (4th in F1)
Vettel looked a completely different driver in 2016 than 2015. He was a man who seemed frustrated and boy did he show it. A rant on the radio about how bad things were going or blaming other drivers began common place during the season and truly peaked in Mexico. But there is still no denying that Vettel is still a class driver and still has it in him to add to those four world titles.
6th: CARLOS SAINZ JR (12th in F1)
The young Spaniard has developed into a very solid racing driver and was on the wish list of many to take the vacant Mercedes seat. After showing well against Verstappen in their debut year he performed well against Kvyat in 2016 and regularly dragged the Toro Rosso powered by a year old Ferrari unit to places it should not have been.
5th: FERNANDO ALONSO (10th in F1)
How much longer can Alonso’s motivation really last? After five years without a championship at Ferrari and now about to enter his third season with McLaren Honda, Fernando still gave it his all at every Grand Prix no matter where he was on the grid. The passion is still there for the time being, the question is can McLaren Honda provide him with a car in time to still prove he has what it takes?
4th: NICO ROSBERG (1st in F1)
2016 was the year Rosberg stopped looking like a beaten man and took the challenge to Hamilton. A brace of wins at the start of the season set him up nicely but when Hamilton started winning mid season Rosberg lost the lead him and in previous years would have all but conceded. Not this year though, Nico pulled himself together and started winning again taking the lead in the points going into the final round. He knew what he had to do and he drove a superb race under pressure to take his first crown. Then less than a week later announced his shock retirement from the sport. F1 will miss him, but will he miss F1?
3rd: DANIEL RICCIARDO (3rd in F1)
From being the latest young talented driver in F1 marked as future world champion to being teamed up with the teenage version of the next world champion, Ricciardo had to raise his game in 2016 and he did so, in bundles. The first time he was teamed with Max Verstappen at the Spanish GP he had to pull out a perfect qualifying lap just to beat him. Strategy gave Max the chance to win that day over Daniel and strategy also lost him the Monaco GP. He would finally add to his win tally in Malaysia though and would end up on the podium eight times throughout the season. His constant smile and unique podium celebration make a fan favourite and the reason he makes the top three in our list.
2nd: LEWIS HAMILTON (2nd in F1)
The best car, ten wins and no championship, but it was close, very close. In fact Hamilton only lost to Rosberg by 5 points, but it can take less to lose a championship. A tricky start to the season but by the time the circus got to Monaco Hamilton won six of the next seven races and took the championship lead. Retirement in Malaysia and Hamilton thought the world was against him. He won the last four races of the season but Rosberg’s lead was too big. Next year he will have a new teammate, who though is yet to confirmed. Rest assured Hamilton will be tough to beat on and off the track.
1st: MAX VERSTAPPEN (5th in F1)
The shock promotion of Max Verstappen to the Red Bull squad was a masterstroke. Not only did it secure him away from the ever watching Ferrari and Mercedes but Max repaid them by winning on his debut in the Spanish GP. A further 6 podiums followed and 5th place in the championship for the teenager who made all the headline in 2016. From daring overtakes to the FIA having to write new rule on blocking cars whilst overtaking, Max shrugged off all the attention and just kept driving. The highlight was his masterful performance in Brazil, on a wet track he pitted for fresh wets tyres and then made everyone look amateurish by overtaking in places others had forgotten about. New more challenging cars to drive in 2017 will show if Verstappen can adapt and even push for the championship.
Chris Brown (@cbrownmsport)