Sebastian Vettel may have lost out on the world title in 2009, but he has been rated as the season's best driver by team bosses in AUTOSPORT magazine's annual top 10.
The magazine obtained the driver ratings from all 10 of the current team principals to figure out who the key men in the paddock believe was the star driver of the year. The rankings then converted into points (on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis). Vettel came out on top, over World Champion Jenson Button, with last year's top-rated driver, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, coming a close third.
The full AUTOSPORT F1 Team Principals' top-10 results for 2009 are:
1. Sebastian Vettel 76
2. Jenson Button 67
3. Lewis Hamilton 65
4. Fernando Alonso 39
5. Rubens Barrichello 35
6= Kimi Raikkonen 30
6= Mark Webber 30
8. Felipe Massa 19
9. Robert Kubica 10
10. Adrian Sutil 8
Vettel was delighted to hear about his ranking. "It's an honor to be recognized after such an exciting season with many ups and downs," he said. "However, the votes won't help me be faster on the track next year and it will still be down to me to prove myself again next season."
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, who joined fellow team principals in contributing his own rankings for the vote, was equally happy with the outcome.
"Sebastian had a great year in 2009 and I am certain he has the makings of a future World Champion," Horner said. "It's easy to forget how young he is sometimes. He's very mature in how he works with the car and his engineers – and it's remarkable to think that he can only just make a car rental.
"It's great to see that his talent has been recognized by others and we're very much looking forward to working with him again in the coming seasons."