We’ve had a whole lot of awards for cars so far in the 2012 Speedhunters Awards. Racers, street cars, modifieds, crazy builds… So much for the metal: what every car needs is a driver. The proverbial nut behind the wheel. 2012 has been a rich season, with down-to-the-wire fights in most of the major championships. So, who has been the stand-out driver? Time to choose from…
How many plaudits does one man need? Well, what he’s receiving could only just be the start. Now a three-time Formula One World Champion with a one-in-four win/race ratio, Sebastian is still only 25 – which means that his stats collection (youngest champion, youngest driver on pole, youngest winner, and so on) is only likely to grow.
Taking a car that everyone had all but written off come the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season, Fernando consistently delivered the goods during the year to finish just three points behind champion Vettel after the final race in Interlagos. Three wins and stunning racecraft kept him in contention; accidents in the run up to the finale robbed him of points and a fairytale end to the season. He’s still considered as the most complete driver on the F1 grid.
Kimi’s foray into the world of rallying seemed to have tarnished his reputation, to the media at least. But the fans – and the man himself – knew full well that his underlying performance was as fast as ever. Although not exactly anonymous in the races, Kimi kept his head down early on and just kept scoring points; it was almost a shock to see his name so far up the driver rankings come mid-season. But the win in Abu Dhabi silenced any final critics. Leave him alone, he knows what he’s doing!
He came, he saw, he conquered. Daigo’s open-top smokebomb of a Lexus SC430 powered to the top in the 2012 Formula Drift series. Kicking off with podiums in Long Beach and Road Atlanta, Daigo hit the top step in Palm Beach – and notice was served. Despite a relatively weaker mid-season, Daigo brought all his experience of Japanese drifting to bear and delivered when it counted, winning both the final round at Irwindale and the overall title. Whilst taking on the best in the US, he somehow also found time to take the FD Asia Championship and took third in D1GP!
Vaughn Gittin Jr
It was so close for Vaughn: one of drifting’s most iconic figures, he was on the cusp of taking his second FD title and had gone into the final round leading the points table. But that doesn’t detract from what was an incredibly strong season: Vaughn and his roaring RTR Mustang were still highlight of any FD round. The tyre slayer extraordinaire.
As with Michael Schumacher in his heyday, there’s almost relief that Loeb is bowing out of full-time rallying. Will someone else finally have a day in the sun? 2012 saw Loeb sail past 70 wins at the top level. Then 71. Then 72. And they kept coming. He finishes his main World Rally Championship career with an enormous 76 wins to his name, and nine championships. He is a simply stunning driver. WRC’s relief will be leading to a sharp intake of breath in the GT and WTCC worlds: that’s where he’s aiming next, as both a driver and team manager.
Now a four-time champion of the Australian V8 Supercars series after taking the title in 2012, he’s also a four-time winner of the Bathurst 1000 and the first driver in the modern era to have won in both Ford and Holden machinery. Jamie is still the form man of V8 Supercars: 12 race wins over 2012 included clean sweeps of both races at Townsville and all three at Yas Marina.
After so many years of being the bridesmaid, Britain’s Rob Huff took the 2012 World Touring Car Championship – despite making things as difficult as possible for himself at the finale in Macau, a track where he has previously excelled. The battle was always going to be between the trio of factory Chevy Cruze, but with veterans Alain Menu and Yvan Muller as the opposition Huff’s victory hardly came easy.
Like Rob Huff, Bruno had come close to winning a series title several times only for it to be snatched away. To Huff’s Muller was Spengler’s Paffett, but a switch to the BMW squad for 2012 proved the correct choice, with his brutal M3 DTM carrying him to four wins and the DTM trophy.
André (left) cut his teeth in the Japanese Super GT series – a series in which he still competes part time – but it’s in prototypes that he’s really made his mark. As part of the Audi LMP1 factory squad he finished second on his 2010 debut (the year after a privateer outing), and then followed that with a clean sweep of wins in 2011 and 2012. Add to that winning the inaugural World Endurance Championship, and it shows that Lotterer represents the new generation of sportscar stars.
It’s tough to pick out a single driver with endurance racing teams, where the squad has to work as one unit to achieve victory. As with Lotterer and his team-mates, so Alex was paired up with some excellent drivers (Nicolas Lapierre in particular), but proved that he had the hunger and raw speed still on tap in the Toyota TS030 Hybrid. Alongside his previous life in Formula 1 he’s also won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice, including on his debut in the TWR Porsche in 1996, and is still a class act.
To take on five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and come out on top is fully deserving of praise: Brad headed into the Homestead final of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season at the top of the points table, and knew what he had to do to take the title. Quoting the story of Senna crashing out of the ’88 Monaco GP in the build-up to the race, he put that lesson into practice – though his 15th place finish was still cutting it mighty fine…
The multiple Drift champion has fully embraced the loose stuff: his joint attack on both the European Rallycross Championship and the Global Rallycross Series ended with second and the overall title respectively, against ferocious opposition on both sides of the Atlantic.
Tommy moved up to the factory Corvette GTE team in last year’s American Le Mans Series, and alongside team-mate Oliver Gavin took his first ALMS victory at Long Beach in 2012. That was just the start, and he’s now regarded as one of America’s brightest sportscar talents. Three more wins followed and the GTE title was tied up with a round to go – more silverware to add to his 2011 class win at Le Mans.
Frank’s multiple campaigns during 2012 netted him two of the most prestigious 24-hour race wins going: he drove to victory in both the Nürburgring and Spa 24 Hours with the Phoenix team. With a full-time drive in WRT’s Audi R8 LMS ultra in GT1 World Championship as well, you’d think that he wouldn’t have much spare time – yet he could still be found on any given weekend hammering around a track somewhere in a historic racing car. One of the old school.
Something is off with these votes and comments, the amount of newly created accounts to comment in Foust's favour is not normal, nor is the amount of caps lock use of "TANNER".
I wonder how the result would look if you'd take away the votes from US IPs. Don't get me wrong, I've got lots of love for the US, but I fear the result might be awfully different due to some weirdness here.
whats with this poll?? drift guys in a poll for the best driver?what? foust competing agaisnt loeb?? man im disappointed in you guys, i though speedhunters knew better...
I can't help but get in on this a little after the comments I've read. I think people are only looking at Tanner's career as of the past several years where his popularity has sky-rocketed (which for this vote, I understand), however if we're just going to compare his actual driving skills to others I don't think that is entirely fair. He has also competed in the Pike's Peak Hill Climb, ice driving events, and rally events as well as his GRC, ERC, and Formula D claim to fame. Not to mention the Gymkhana and stunt driving stuff which, yes, I know are not exactly major motorsport events or even one at all, but it's still driving experience and still requires the ability to handle a car. I would also like to point out that his second place in ERC is with several missed events. Obviously all of these drivers have immense talent, that goes without saying. They wouldn't be here if they didn't. Loeb is, without a doubt, already a legend thanks to WRC, but Tanner is also one of the most consistent drivers I have ever seen and I, personally, enjoy watching his style and watching him drive. And it's unfortunate that his power steering failed at the X Games, and I would love to see a repeat if it hadn't. Would it have turned out with Loeb on top again? Probably, but I bet it still would've been a damn great race. I also hate to admit that Tanner does have an entire slew of a female fan base that just like to look at his face and could give a shit less about what he does...which is just preposterous but we can't get around it anyway so it's just something we have to deal with when it comes to a vote like this. I usually avoid votes like this for this reason. You shouldn't judge a driver by his fans, though. I don't think it's fair to say that he is at the bottom of the pack. I would also like to make a nod at the Formula D drivers. I've noticed several people judging them based on the fans and not the actual driving. I understand where everyone is coming from in terms of their skills not necessarily transferring across to other events and that it's more about the entertainment, however I'm sick of the Formula D-hating in general. Drifting does take skill and immense car control, and just because they're not big-time road course guys doesn't mean they're not great drivers. I don't care for Daigo Saito as a driver and I don't think the judges made the right call in his first run with Matt Field at Irwindale, but I still respect that he is a skilled drifter. Yes, drifting appeals to a generally younger audience, but I think it's still a lot about the fun and style in it, and I don't see anything wrong with that. So people need to pull their heads out of their asses and just have a little fun with watching it. Because there is something magical about throwing a car sideways against the door of another car. ;) As much as I love Vaughn's style, he wouldn't have my vote for this category. And as for people nagging about SH "catering" to Formula D or whatever, just calm yourselves. It's still a relatively young Motorsport and appeals to a younger audience...and who is, generally, on the Internet more? Oh! A younger audience! But anyway, I think I've gotten that off my chest and feel a bit better...but what is the Internet for if not to take a stand on our soap boxes for a while? It's really difficult to compare drivers from so many different events...but it's kind of interesting to see the turn out. Anyway, let the hate continue.
While this is a vote for the readers of speedhunters and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, why do people feel the need to shove their opinions all over the board, Yes Loeb is an outstanding driver, Tanner Foust is too, hell all of the guys on this list are gonna be a damn sight better than most of the people on this board. Once you voted, you've had your say on who you think is best, so just take a deep breath and go grab a beer, I doubt the drivers are going to be losing any sleep over who wins, so why whine on here about it.
Loeb with more votes than Vettel? I would like to see Loeb in another team! He hasn't proven anything except that Citroen WRT is a better team! Even in Citroen he had the whole team working for him!
I still think that Autosport's 8th best driver in 2012 should be in the list! A. Felix da Costa won Macau and is doing better then Vettel did in his time!
People tend to fall in love with personalities... Then equate their love for that person with how good they are... Sad.
Kimi is certainly my favorite driver, hum no that's sure! But Sebastien Loeb is now THE WRC LEGEND! 9 titles, 76 wins!
And to conclude, when he was at X Games, he won it and when I check the repay of the final, whatever happen, he was one level up than other drivers...
I used to enjoy Speedhunters in general, but lately I've been so disgusted by the crass, offensive and crude comments on these pages that I'm pretty much done coming here. Everything has to degrade to name-calling, juvenile pissing matches and displays of ignorance. If I wanted to see that, I'd turn on prime-time television. Ugh.
Put the rulers away, boys. Nobody cares.
Voted for Daigo... he won 2 championships, 3rd in D1gp + lot of other events... I know Vettel, Loeb or Alonso should get more votes but Tanner Foust in the lead? ... are you serious ?
Though I do contend with certain drivers being on this list, its not about what sport they drive in, its more about if they were winners! Get the hell over the drift hate. This poll is Driver of the Year, not FASTEST driver of the year. So racing or drift driver is moot. As in, what driver had the best season? Loeb, who utterly ruled but is that really a suprise by now? Or hard for him? Vettel started bad and overcame for the win. But he's not my vote either. Daigo DID have a very good season. 2 titles and 3rd in another top series. Milner is my vote though. Watching him mature and get better and better has been great, and this year he really proved he is knocking on the top level drivers' doors.
Why did you only include Lotterer? Tréluyer and Faessler contributed just as much to the World Championship as he did.
And really, drifters are included are included alongside WEC, WRC, Formula 1, WTCC and DTM drivers? Wurz, Lotterer and Alonso are paid by companies with tremendous motorsport heritage to drive their racing cars. These companies rate these drivers highly enough to entrust them with the companies' reputations. And you've included drifters.....
Let me make this pole a lot simpler: Is Sebastien Loeb the best driver of 2012?
Your welcome. And while Formula D is great, this many FD drivers even being put up for nomination in this category is highly questionable. Before finalizing this poll I would definitely keep in mind that it could have been spammed with votes.
Wow. I know Speedhunters caters to A LOT of drifters and drift fan boys, but making a "Best Driver" competition including Tanner Foust, Daigo Saito, and VGJ in the running against Loeb, Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, etc...and leaving out others that should be included?! SMH.
I know people like a variety, but it's like nominating Drake, Katy Perry, and Nikki Minaj alongside Adele for a Grammy nod...it's ridiculous.
Everyone knows WRC and F1 Drivers can run circles around drifters, I would have thought this was common sense. Clearly all the 12-18 year olds are voting for drifters.
I believe the title of this award is "Driver of the YEAR" for the "2012 Speedhunters Awards"...Was Tanner Foust the best or, and I'll pander to the drift fanatics by saying, most successful/impressive driver in his "particular discipline" this year? No.
Why do people keep looking into the drivers' past successful seasons? There were PAST awards for PAST years.
In 2012, Vettel came from behind, winning 4 GP's in a row along the way, to take his 3rd consecutive title. Vettel ALSO won the team competition with Schumacher at the 2012 ROC.
In 2012, Loeb won 1st in every stage of the WRC except 4...that's a pretty impressive display of dominance. Loeb also won the 2012 X-Games Rally Gold.
Whether they are the usual/predictable winners or not is irrelevant. Just because they dominate their discipline doesn't make their fight to win year after year any less meaningful. They're still world champs, that's still significant. Again, this award is for who was the most successful driver THIS YEAR of 2012.
@drivemycam Loeb must be a bit tired of Citroen by now. he's been with them for, i don't know, 7 years? And i like your question: "Loeb with more votes than Vettel?" That is one thing i dont understand.
@MichaelKN hes good at video games because he has more experience with real driving than all of the other drivers combined
@hollywood Foust doesn't compete in Global Time Attack.
@hollywood he hasn't got the win just yet... loeb is gaining ground...
@hollywood He can do multiple kinds of races and dominate all of them!!!
@ChristianClark Oh, so winning is no longer a challenge for people like Loeb and Vettel...why don't we just hand them the trophies at the beginning of every season then. You sound ridiculous. It's not about who's fastest, it's about who's most skilled and successful over a season. I'm sorry, but just because Daigo won three titles it doesn't equal or surpass the F1 World Champion title or WRC title, that's insulting. There are much more Drift series' then there are F1/WRC series', OBVIOUSLY. The fact is drifting is a grassroots motorsport and, when compared to ACTUAL RACING, is more like an ice skating competition. I would say Time Attack drivers have more skill than drifters, but we skipped right over them in this poll didn't we. Getting judged by a panel? How about getting judged by the clock and getting the fastest time possible. Of course Loeb and Vettel have to work hard to retain their titles, are you saying Sam Hubinette and Rhys Millen didn't have to work hard to keep dominating the early days of Formula D? Please.
Comparing Drifters to F1, WRC, Endurance, Touring drivers is like comparing Middle school softball players to MLB players.
As I mentioned in the caption, it is difficult to divide up drivers in endurance racing, but Lotterer did seem to have that little bit extra: vis his immense performance in qualifying and the race at Le Mans. But, you could consider a vote for Lotterer as a vote for the #1 Audi crew (and the same with Wurz and his co-drivers).
@ToneDiez Hey, fan boy. Look whos winning!!!
@ToneDiez I think you guys are under estimating the skill it takes to throw cars at walls, while being blinded by smoke. Very few people in the world have the skills to do this. It's a specialization that is definitely deserving of respect.
F1 drivers are obviously the pinnacle of circuit racing, WRC rallying and Formula D drifting... very simple. As each year passes, we see Formula D growing by leaps and bounds and the championship has joined the ranks of the world's top national level championships in our view. We do not see this type of growth happening in too many other types of motorsports.
Of course you are free to put your weight behind WRC or F1 drivers which is why this is a vote :>
@drivemycam It's actually more than 9years! 11 (2002-2012)! The thing is that he is a fantastic driver, but he never had a chance to prove his value by competing in another team! He has always been in the best team! Vettel is also on the best team, but when you look at his past and the way he drives, you see his talent!
Alonso is good, but he has Ferrari and Massa working for him!
Btw, Tanner is also an excellent, versatile driver, but not the best!
Tell us what happened when he raced Leob, @TEAMFOUST34
@TEAMFOUST34 And don't forget, the only time Loeb and Foust actually went head-to-head, in the 2012 X-Games Rally, Loeb spanked Foust effortlessly. There's your 1-on-1 on a level playing field.
@TEAMFOUST34 Yes, because children like you voted for him.
@RodChong I think you are a fan boy! Get off drifters' nuts!
Hey RC/SH, stop being so Drift biased and making it out to be so hardcore, its just some guys with a bit of talent simply skidding some cars around a handful of corners, and to throw a car at a wall you cant see is tantamount stupidity, so please stop making it out to be so dramatic and hardcore as its simply is not. Drift has a place but that place is not real world, it is a fantasy world driven by industry types playing to a specific demographic who knows no better and wants to belong to something which by wearing a relative t-shirt, sneakers, baseball cap or simply a sticker they do. Its pure marketing not pure motorsport.
And yes of course Vettel is the best 'driver', well at least to those who understand and appreciate what constitues a 'real driver' that is, by the way I am not a hardcore F1 fan as I actually enjoy watching other motorsport as well, including a bit of Drift I might add !
@RodChong I'm not saying drifters don't have skill, I'm just saying it's obvious that F1, WRC, Endurance, Touring drivers have MUCH more skill which is much more refined. An F1 or WRC driver can and does do what a drifter can do, plus much more. It's not even a contest. Drifters may be very skilled at their discipline, but their discipline is basically a grassroots motorsport, whereas F1, WRC, and Touring racing are the absolute highest accolade one can hope to reach. F1, you're talking about a driver that PILOTS a $5m+ car like a jet, versus a drift car that can be made for ~$50k, and that's generous, most amateurs have cars worth $10-20k...and the playing field between amateurs and "professionals" isn't so spread.
Let's go by parts. By that order of ideas, maybe we should consider Ogier that in 2011 did a better season than Loeb, but Citroen just didn't let him win. It was funny to see him smash that car in the last event just to piss off Citroen! But all of this is history. We are talking here about the best driver in 2012 and Loeb simply cruised in that car watching Ford crash and break! (And let's not talk about the car because in the only rally where they have the guts to inspect cars in detail, Citroen got a penalty.)
Loeb is maybe the best WRC driver ever, but this year I didn't see him doing his best, or anything extraordinary for that matter! Maybe he didn't need it because he was in the best team, had the team working for him and the competition was falling apart! But this year he didn't prove anything!
If I'm not mistaken, Vettel did 2 years in Sauber! He didn't land in F1 just because he had money. You might not know this, but there are only two ways of getting into the F1. By having loads of money, (Alonso, Massa, Webber, etc) or by being an out of this world driver. In the last case you only get there if Red Bull sees you. That's way I spoke about his past, Red Bull Junior Team only picks up the best of the best for F1! I've seen them throwing amazing drivers into other categories or firing them just because they weren't the best.This year he managed to get a 3rd World Title in a row, that is Fangio and and Schumacher level!
Oh! The whining Spaniard. You know, the car wasn't really that bad! It's funny because Alonso sometimes complained about speed and you could see that the car had the highest top speed and incredible acceleration in some GPs! I really like Ferrari, but they have been managed like crap! Even more funny is that Ferrari had the chance to develop the car, they did it more times than they were allowed and FIA closed their eyes!
I watched the GPs and that doesn't let me get influenced by some the writers! I'm not saying that Alonso is bad, it's just that he is a sour loser that blamed it on the car!
@drivemycam What uninformed drivel. Yes Loeb has always been with Citroen, but lets look at that. The Best Team in WRC without a doubt so they have their choice of drivers and Loeb is picked to be #3 (beating out Philippe Bugalski - the only man to win a WRC event in a Citreon at that point) behind Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, who he promptly blows into the weeds. First full season he finishes 2nd in the drivers championship, losing out to Petter Solberg in the final event. 2004 his sophomore year he wins the title.
Vettel meanwhile came to F1 in a Red Bull Jr before being promoted to the main team where he has been all along - so where is the comments about Vettel needing to drive for another team? You say look at his past and see his talent lets look at Mr Loeb's past again. Didn't start rallying until 1998 thats right 6 years from total novice to World Champion! When did Vettel start racing?
"Alonso is good but he has Ferrari and Massa working for him." And what a wonderful job they both did in the first 2/3rds of the season. That Ferrari was a PIG for the first half of the season and had no right being anywhere near the results Alonso got it. (BTW you might want to check out what the pro writers and drivers think as to the best driver in F1 for 2012 - for most it is not finger-boy)
@TEAMFOUST34 @DomoKun Ok, obviously you're just a fanboy who has never been on track. While power steering can make DRIFTING easier, due to need for counter steering, there are many people that prefer to drift and/or road race without power steering. For the most part, power steering does nothing past ~10mph. No power steering gives better feedback from the road, frees up a little power by taking stress away from the engine, and saves weight. MANY race cars are setup without power steering. It's really down to personal preference of the driver. If you're saying this was the deciding factor in why Loeb beat Foust, then obviously he's not capable of being a better driver than him.
@ToneDiez Foust had no power steering at all, and i dont mind leob, but i like Foust better
@BadHouse @ToneDiez @RodChong Damn, you guys get a response from His Chongness himself here in the forums and you can only argue with him. Rod, thanks for SH, and as director of this site you can choose whoever you want for these 15 drivers. Its what sets the SH poll apart from one elsewhere. If you guys don't like SH's choices, by all means take your eyes elsewhere but damn have a little respect. Calling these guys "stupid" and crying like they don't know motorsports. Buddy, I don't see millions of eyes on YOUR auto blog.
I am going to bring ROC into a discussion to show that Tanner Foust has international level abilities as a professional driver. The formula for ROC is to provide equal machinery so the drivers can compete only on skill. Many drivers show up to that event and get roasted. That didn't happen to Tanner.
Tanner Foust is a factory Ford Driver and is sponsored by them with programs in Europe and North America. You are not aware of this?
Again to repeat: I am not attempting to say that any one driver is better or worse than another. Nor am I saying that FD drivers are on equal terms to the WRC and F1. Am also not saying that Formula D drifters on mass equal F1 and WRC skill levels
All I am saying here is that we stand behind the 15 drivers we have selected as candidates for driver of the year. I do not agree with your attempts to discredit the drifters (Saito and Gittin) and former drifter (Foust) we have put onto this list.
@ChristianClark @RodChong What "smackdown"? Anyone with a mind and love for motorsports knows F1 and WRC are superior to ANY drifting series. If Tanner Foust and Saito were "Better Drivers", since this IS a "Driver of the Year" poll, then they'd have been snapped up by a Manufacturer team by now. Skills of F1/WRC drivers can easily translate to use in drifting...the same cannot be said the other way.
@RodChong You're going to bring the ROC "exhibition" into a competitive discussion?
Ok, Foust beat Button...and Coulthard beat Foust...and Loeb beat Coulthard to win the title.
As for 2009, Foust got a better time than Schumacher, but Foust didn't even make it out of his group and into the knockout stages, whereas Schumacher made it to the final.
What's your point judging from 2 individual times against 2 individual drivers?
@ToneDiez I don't think it's possible to directly compare drivers in different disciplines. I am not saying that Saito and JR are on the same playing field as the F1 and WRC champions. All I am saying here is that they definitely deserve to be on the list.
So what is your commentary about Foust beating Button at the ROC in 2008 and Schumacher in 2009?
@RodChong Why you continue to persist with this ridiculous comparison, I have no idea. Like I said in reply to that Tanner Foust fanboy, Loeb spanked Foust in the 2012 Xgames if you need an example of the 2 drivers head-to-head on a level playing field. Loeb is a better driver, period. You honestly think Loeb couldn't hop in a FD car and win competitions? It would be too easy. WRC is just a nearly year long season and any time between stages is spent preparing learning every single turn with their navigators, practicing, and considering weather conditions. Starting to think you've never watched any WRC stages. Most of what they do is drift...on tarmac, on gravel, in snow, in rain, in ice....it's a ridiculous comparison.
@ToneDiez I'm only talking about the top end professional Formula D drifters here. The top of the pyramid machine in Formula D are just as expensive as a top line GT3 car for example. You are off by several hundred thousand dollars when you are talking about a high end FD machine :>
Formula D has come a long way in the past few years, and it's time for the traditional motorsports community to think differently here.
Yes there is a massive spread between the big teams and the amateurs, but that's what we love about Formula D, a highly skllled drifter can make a big difference, it's not only necessarily about spending the most money.