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GP Week : Issue 72
Top 5 Formula 1 drivers of '09 As After two seasons in which success had been handed to him on a silver platter, 2009 was a year in which Lewis Hamilton had to overcome his greatest tests as a driver and as a man. Ultimately those trials con rmed him as one of, if not the single greatest talent in modern Formula 1. More than either of his past seasons in the highest echelon of single-seater racing, 2009 was a year in which Lewis Hamilton drove like a champion. He arrived in Melbourne knowing that his McLaren lacked the pace to defend his world championship. He lined up 18th but finished fourth after an astonishing race. But it was in the aftermath of that race that he was tested the most. The lies told to the stewards saw the champion disqualified and discredited. He had let himself down and he knew it. Lewis spent the rest of the season trying to make up for it. And that he did. His race performances were, on the whole, outstanding. Take Hungary. On a track at which he had traditionally struggled with tyre wear, he drove majestically to take victory after five pointless races. Over the second half of the season he scored more points than any other driver. In Monza he pushed so hard he crashed on the last lap and it was in that one moment that I feel we really saw inside Lewis' head. We saw the driver who never stops pushing until the chequered flag. It was a mindset that had won him the championship in 2008, and it is that unfaltering determination that made him our stand out driver of 2009. 1 -- Lewis Hamilton The career trajectory of this young man just continues to astound the Formula 1 community. From a one- o debut for BMW in 2007 to his rst win for Toro Rosso in 2008 and now, in 2009, Sebastian Vettel was ghting for the world championship with Red Bull Racing. He hasn't had it easy, but Sebastian has truly announced himself as one of the very best talents of F1's new generation. This year he brought Red Bull its first pole position and race win in China, and was on the pace in almost every weather condition and on almost every track. His performance at the British Grand Prix was nothing short of exceptional and his weekend in Japan, where he had but the slightest hope of taking the championship to Button, was peerless. With four race wins for the season he ultimately took second in the championship battle, but there was an underlying frustration in Seb this year that he felt he might have actually won the thing. His crash with Kubica in Melbourne and spinning out in Malaysia didn't help his cause, and neither did his retirement after contact with Raikkonen in Hungary. Two engine failures in Valencia, a drive through in Singapore and that shocker of a qualifying session in Brazil also didn't do him any favours. With a more reliable car and a slightly cooler head, he might well have taken the championship. But we wouldn't have him any other way. 2 -- Sebastian Vettel 46