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Date published: July 31 2022 – Sam Cooper
First introduced in 2016, the Driver of the Day award is voted for by fans and awarded to the driver with the highest percentage of the vote at the time of closing, which is the penultimate lap of a race.
Romain Grosjean won the first award back at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix before repeating the feat at the next race in Bahrain.
Heading into the 2022 season, a total of 121 awards had been handed out with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen scooping the most so far.
Here are all the winners of the award so far in 2022 and what they did to achieve it:
Ferrari proved they meant business in the opening race of the season and so did Leclerc. He stormed to pole in Sakhir before holding off the Red Bull of Verstappen, who would later go on to DNF in what threatened to be a recurring theme of the team’s season. The Italian team’s day was made even better when Carlos Sainz finished behind Leclerc to give Ferrari the one-two.
Leclerc’s 28.3% share of the vote is the highest achieved by a driver so far this season.
Meanwhile Kevin Magnussen came just shy of scooping the award himself after impressing with a P5 on his return to the sport.
Charles Leclerc – 28.3%
Kevin Magnussen – 22.5%
Max Verstappen – 9%
Lewis Hamilton – 5.1%
Zhou Guanyu – 5%
He may not have won the race but Leclerc picked up the Driver of the Day award for the second time in as many races, largely due to his epic battle with Verstappen.
The pair’s wheel-to-wheel fight demonstrated how much of a game changer the 2022 regulations are as we saw close-up battles for the first time. With eight laps remaining, Verstappen caught up with Leclerc but the Ferrari man was smart in allowing the Dutchman to overtake so that it would be him and not the Red Bull driver who got DRS.
The two battled it out for the next few laps until Verstappen was able to make the move stick in the final lap but Leclerc finished just 0.5 seconds behind him.
Charles Leclerc – 26.8%
Max Verstappen – 14.5%
Lewis Hamilton – 10.1%
Sergio Perez – 9.5%
Kevin Magnussen – 7.5%
CHARLES LECLERC WINS THE AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX! 🏆
He takes home his first-ever Grand Slam victory – pole, win and fastest lap!!! 🤩#AusGP #F1 @Charles_Leclerc pic.twitter.com/3uSxV281VL
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 10, 2022
Leclerc made it a hat-trick of wins at the earliest possible opportunity as he took pole, fastest lap and the race win in Melbourne. The Monegasque was in imperious form as fought off Verstappen once more.
In the 27th lap of the race, Verstappen looked as if he had his best chance at an overtake but Leclerc produced some excellent defensive moves to keep himself ahead before the Red Bull car would once again fail and give the Ferrari driver the win.
Charles Leclerc – 19.7%
Sergio Perez – 14.8%
Daniel Ricciardo – 9.4%
George Russell – 9.3%
Alex Albon – 8.2%
At Imola, it was Red Bull and Verstappen’s turn for a dominant performance. Having seemingly put their reliability woes behind them, the Dutchman qualified on pole before winning the first Sprint race of the season.
In the Grand Prix, Verstappen was handed a gift when a strip of tarmac laid on the right hand side of the track to cover the old start line proved slippier than the rest of the grid, meaning those who started second and fourth (Leclerc and Sainz) got off to a poor start.
Leclerc was jumped by Lando Norris who provided the perfect buffer between the Ferraris and the disappearing Red Bulls. Verstappen eased to a comfortable victory, including a bonus point for the fastest lap, while his Championship rival Leclerc ended sixth.
Verstappen’s 14.7% share of the vote is currently the lowest figure to earn the reward this season.
Max Verstappen – 14.7%
Sergio Perez – 11.5%
Lando Norris – 11%
George Russell – 9.3%
Yuki Tsunoda – 8.7%
Verstappen may have qualified third but he would go on to be crowned the inaugural winner at the Miami track. He was aggressive from the outset, gobbling up Sainz on the second corner before going after race leader Leclerc. Eight laps later and he got his man.
He darted down the inside of turn one and Leclerc had no answer as the quick Red Bull began to pull away. Even when a Safety Car threatened to give the DRS-powered Leclerc another chance, Verstappen kept him at arm’s length.
A special mention should be made for Mick Schumacher who reached the top five for the first time with what looked like a real chance to secure his first points. Unfortunately for the German, he collided with his compatriot and mentor Sebastian Vettel to scupper any hopes he may have had of breaking his duck.
Max Verstappen – 18%
Mick Schumacher – 14.5%
George Russell – 12.7%
Charles Leclerc – 8.6%
Sergio Perez – 7.6%
Hamilton made contact with Kevin Magnussen in the opening lap but that did not stop him as he went from asking the team if they should retire the car to P5.
The team dangled the carrot of a potential P8 to him but he went above and beyond that. As one of the quickest drivers on the track, he navigated his way through practically the entire grid until he forced himself into contention for a podium. He made it to P4 but was forced to surrender that to Sainz as a late problem with the car meant he had to ease off.
Voted your Driver of the Day for the #SpanishGP – and what a drive it was 👏 pic.twitter.com/QWeZhUwmrE
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) May 22, 2022
Lewis Hamilton – 22.8%
Sergio Perez – 16.3%
George Russell – 15.7%
Max Verstappen – 11.4%
Fernando Alonso – 6.9%
It was quite the turnaround for Perez who ended Saturday, and the session, by crashing into the wall at Portier during qualifying but the Mexican shook off any disappointment he may have been feeling to win at Monaco for the first time.
One race after being at the wrong end of team orders, Perez showed he at least deserves a seat at the table with an assured drive powered by Red Bull’s superior strategy over Ferrari.
On fading tyres, Perez was able to keep Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc behind as he crossed the line in P1, earning him more than double the vote of any other driver.
Sergio Perez – 27.6%
Pierre Gasly – 10.5%
Carlos Sainz – 9.9%
Charles Leclerc – 8.8%
Fernando Alonso – 7.4%
In one of the closest votes to date, it was Hamilton who came out on top, just pipping Verstappen by 1.2% of the vote. Hamilton was rewarded for the immense pain he suffered during the race.
As he exited the car, which had bumped and rattled worse than it had all season, he was seen clutching his back in pain.
Still, he soldiered through the two-hour endurance test to move from a starting spot of P7 to P4. Thankfully for Hamilton and his back, this was one of the last times that the car seemed to show serious porpoising issues.
Lewis Hamilton – 14.8%
Max Verstappen – 13.6%
Sebastian Vettel – 13.1%
Sergio Perez – 10%
Pierre Gasly – 9.3%
Having been forced to take a penalty for a new power unit, Leclerc found himself at the back of the grid as the lights went out in Montreal. But it did not deter him and he used the pace of the Ferrari to make his way through the field.
His ascent was sustained throughout the race and even in lap 55 of the 70 lap race, he was down in seventh place. However, he was able to pass both Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon to move into P5. Despite the impressive performance, it did not match Leclerc’s standards who stated he was after a P4 finish.
Your @salesforce #F1DriverOfTheDay in Montreal…
It's @Charles_Leclerc, after a fight from the back of the grid to fifth! #CanadianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/1q22bkPbwQ
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 19, 2022
Charles Leclerc – 21.6%
Lewis Hamilton – 11.9%
Carlos Sainz – 10.6%
Max Verstappen – 10.2%
Fernando Alonso – 6%
A performance that has come to define Perez’s career in recent years as he battled the odds, and the entirety of the pack, to race from last place to the podium. In the opening lap of the restarted race, the Mexican suffered damage after contact with Leclerc and was forced to pit for a new front wing.
From there, he fought his way back up through the pack until he was amongst the front runners once more. Towards the end of the race, he participated in a crazy battle for the lead with Sainz, Leclerc, Perez and Hamilton all involved. However, the Mexican could not quite complete the comeback of all comebacks as he finished behind Sainz.
A special note should also be made of the 20% share that went to Hamilton who finished on the podium in his home race as well as Sainz, who could feel hard done by having not won the award following his first race victory.
Sergio Perez – 20.7%
Lewis Hamilton – 20%
Carlos Sainz – 11.1%
Charles Leclerc – 9%
Mick Schumacher – 7.1%
Perhaps harshly missing out on his first points score in the sport at Silverstone, Schumacher looked delighted to learn he had been nominated as the fan’s favourite in Austria.
Mick was chuffed when he found out he was your @salesforce #F1DriverOfTheDay 😃#AustrianGP @HaasF1Team pic.twitter.com/pg9kncbtff
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 10, 2022
It was a deserved vote as well. Having been frustrated at team orders (or the lack of) in the Sprint race, Schumacher took some of that anger that characterised his father’s career and produced an excellent drive. He maximised the pace of the Haas and thanks to the retirement of Perez and Sainz, he finished a career high of P6.
Mick Schumacher – 24.5%
Charles Leclerc – 15.3%
Lewis Hamilton – 10.1%
Max Verstappen – 9.6%
Carlos Sainz – 8%
After taking an almost entirely new power unit, Sainz had to start from the back row at Paul Ricard – and completed a mammoth recovery drive, which could well have even been a podium.
Carlos Sainz is your @salesforce Driver Of The Day 💫
From P19 to P5, the super Spaniard put in an incredibly strong drive to collect important points for both championships! 💪#FrenchGP #F1 @ScuderiaFerrari @Carlossainz55 pic.twitter.com/3bWmR6bspY
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2022
He fought through the field, and with his own team at times, to move into P3 as he overtook Sergio Perez late on the race. But, as it has for much of the season, Ferrari’s strategy let him down as the team decided to pit him citing the tyres as the reason. The Spaniard recovered to earn a respectable P5.
Carlos Sainz – 40.4%
Lewis Hamilton – 13%
Max Verstappen – 10.7%
Charles Leclerc – 6.4%
Sergio Perez – 5.4%
Verstappen took a superb victory in Hungary after starting all the way back in P10, following a power unit issue that hampered his Q3 session.
He rose up several places on the first lap, and the Dutchman and Red Bull kept their cool as Ferrari’s strategy proved to be the incorrect one, while he kept making his way up through the field.
Others pitting around him ended up seeing Verstappen rise up to the net lead of the race – even having enough scope to have a mid-race spin to take an excellent win.
Let it not go unnoticed that Max Verstappen is now leading after starting P10, without Safety Car intervention, and even having time for a spin in between.#HungarianGP 🇭🇺 #F1
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) July 31, 2022
Max Verstappen – 34.2%
Lewis Hamilton – 16.4%
George Russell – 11%
Sebastian Vettel – 8.7%
Charles Leclerc – 6.6%
Charles Leclerc – 4
Max Verstappen – 3
Lewis Hamilton – 2
Sergio Perez – 2
Mick Schumacher – 1
Carlos Sainz – 1