Get To Know This Year's Formula One Drivers
1/10 Lewis Hamilton
This UK native has entered a total of 229 Grands Prix and five world championships. With the phrase Still I Rise tattooed across his shoulders, the young racer has proved that's exactly what he's done. With one of the greatest rookie performances in F1 history in 2007, he's managed to break all expectations and cement his name as one driver not to mess with.
2/10 Sebastian Vettel
F1's poster boy of early achievement, Vettel has won more than all but two drivers in history by the time he was 26, including back-to-back world titles between 2010 and 2013. In the chase to the chequered flag, he likes to lead from the front and just like his hero, Michael Schumacher, Vettel has settled in as a race-winning leader at Ferrari. Alongside his four world crowns he can boast more than 50 pole positions and race victories, ranking him – statistically - above many of the biggest names in F1 history. No wonder then that he was hand-picked to return Grand Prix racing’s oldest team to glory. Since his move to Maranello, Vettel’s rivalry with Lewis Hamilton has intensified. Opposites off track – Hamilton leading a glamorous public life while Vettel is a private family man – the duo are evenly matched on Sundays as they bid not just for more world titles, but to be hailed the best of their generation.
3/10 Kimi Räikkönen
Known for his taciturn demeanor, Raikkonen does his talking on track. His fearless racing has led to memorable McLaren wins. Out of the car, the Finn is famously taciturn. Although those who know him well say privately he is an amusing bon viveur, as well as a devoted family man. Meanwhile, his legions of loyal fans have to rely on revelations in his radio transmissions. And maybe Raikkonen himself best summed up the enigma of the Iceman when he said on the airwaves: “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.”
4/10 Max Verstappen
Arriving as Formula 1’s youngest ever competitor at just 17 years old, Verstappen pushed his car, his rivals and the sport’s record books to the limit. The Dutchman with the heart of a lion took the Toro Rosso – and then the Red Bull – by the horns with his instinctive racing style. F1’s youngest points scorer soon became its youngest race winner – at the age of 18 years and 228 days – with an opportunistic but controlled drive on debut for Red Bull in Barcelona. A true wheel-to-wheel racer, another stunning drive in Brazil from the back of the pack to the podium on a treacherous wet track kept the plaudits coming. The son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen and super-quick karting Mum Sophie Kumpen, racing runs through his genes. The expectations for the next generation’s leading light are sky high – but with Verstappen there’s a feeling that the sky’s the limit.
5/10 Valtteri Bottas
Learning his craft on Finnish roads of ice and snow, he was born to be a Grand Prix racer. Bottas explains that if you can drive on the frozen roads of his homeland then you can drive anywhere. Then there’s the Finnish mentality –reserved, diligent and calm the fast lane of F1 doesn’t faze him.Making his F1 debut with Williams in 2013, Bottas soon became part of the family. Points and podiums followed with the reliable racer even amassing the most points without a win, a record he resented but that showcased his ability. The fact the Finn was such a points machine saw him suddenly promoted to the most coveted seat in F1 - Nico Rosberg’s vacant championship-winning seat at Mercedes.
6/10 Daniel Ricciardo
The Aussie combines all-out speed with impressive race craft. Never afraid to push to the limits if it means pulling off a pass, Ricciardo is a proven race-winner for Red Bull, capable of consistently finishing at the business end of the championship table. A regular podium-finisher, Ricciardo has christened the steps around the world. A new chapter with Renault’s works team is sure to bring fresh challenges for the Perth pilot as he chases his dream of following Jack Brabham and Alan Jones as the next world champion from Down Under.
7/10 Nico Hulkenberg
F1’s 'Hulk' has shown incredible strength and stamina as a midfield marauder for Williams, Force India, Sauber and Renault during a career spanning back to 2010. In that rookie season, Hulkenberg mastered changing track conditions to take a brilliant pole position in Brazil, showing he had brains as well as brawn. Since then his ability to consistently hoover up the points has made him a highly valued team player. In 2015, his reputation grew once more when, on a weekend away from his day job, he won the classic Le Mans 24 Hours race for Porsche at the first time of asking.
8/10 Sergio Perez
Perez’s reputation in F1 has been built on opposite approaches to Grand Prix racing. On the one hand, he is a punchy combatant who wrestles his way through the pack and into the points. Never afraid to add a bit of spice to his on-track encounters, even his team mates don’t always escape the Mexican’s heat. Then on the other hand, Perez is a smooth operator, a master at managing tyres to eke out extra performance and give him the upper hand on strategy. A firm favourite on the grid after spells with Sauber and Force India, Perez has matured into an analytical racer and team leader. A proud countryman, the Guadalajara gunslinger has amassed more points than any other Mexican in the history of F1.
9/10 Kevin Magnussen
Magnussen is here for one reason only – to race. He may be a second-generation F1 driver – following his father Jan onto the grid – but Magnussen’s idols are from the ‘golden era’ of Grand Prix racing when drivers risked it all for the love of the sport. His meaty manoeuvres and elbows-out approach have earned him a bad-boy reputation on track, something that still leaves him baffled. Out of the car Magnussen is laidback and affable. After all he has his dream job – and he is only here to race.
10/10 Carlos Sainz
He’s the matador from Madrid racing royalty. Entering F1’s Bull Ring paired alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso in 2015, Sainz quickly showed his fighting spirit. A tenacious racer, Sainz puts the car on the edge as he hustles his way through the pack. The Spaniard is intelligent as well as instinctive, thinking his way through a race and into the points. This calm temperament follows him off track where he remains unfazed by the pressures of forging a Grand Prix career with a famous name. Sainz is the son of double World Rally champion, also his namesake, and has brought some of Dad’s driving skills to the F1 circuit – junior loves a delicious dose of drift for one.
- Photography formula1.com
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