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2014 Christine's Rankings Champion - Daniel Ricciardo - The smiling Australian holds off defending champ Lewis Hamilton

Published by Christine

After an incredible year long battle, the 2014 Christine's Rankings champion has finally been decided. Last year's winner Lewis Hamilton may have managed to take his second F1 championship this season, but he couldn't manage to do the double in the rankings, handing his crown to the always-smiling Daniel Ricciardo.

It's easy to see, on the face of it, how Ricciardo could get in the fight for the rankings title, with his enthusiastic personality, cheeky chappy ways and yes, that ominpresent grin, but there's been some highs and lows (and an ill-advised beard) along the way, and it wasn't until the last few weeks that he managed to snatch and retain the lead.

The smiling Australian holds off defending champ Lewis Hamilton
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty

It's been a pretty intense season for everyone involved in Formula One, and that's not even mentioning the on track stuff. Here's how 2014 played out for the Christine's Rankings finalists.

Bronze medallist - Jenson Button

Poor Jenson Button had to deal with a lot of change this year, with a new teammate to deal with, the sad death of his father, a swap in the race engineering department, and the constant questions about his Formula One future. Throughout it all, he's managed to retain a relatively optimistic outlook and been a really good team player.

There were also a few points handed out through the season for his appearances on the F1 broadcasts, either with pre-recorded pieces, or gate-crashing live events. He made up a heap of points in the final rankings week just by participating in some brilliant interview pieces for the British schedules.

The ease with which he handles the media make many of us keen to see him move across to broadcasting if and when his racing career does come to an end. However, let's hope that doesn't happen soon. As a former Ranking's champion himself, and a finalist this year, it's clear F1 would be a poorer place without him.

Silver medallist - Lewis Hamilton

Lewis comes in for plenty of criticism, from me as much as anyone, for his rollercoaster of emotions displayed throughout a racing season. And yet, it's that wearing of his heart on his sleeve that puts him in the position of just missing out on a double Rankings championship. After taking victory in 2013 despite a wide range of positive and negative points, Hamilton spent a good proportion of this year leading the standings.

Although there was perhaps an oversharing of dog photos at the start of the year, and an indulgence in his famous friends partway through, it's that sharing of his life with his fans that creates the open relationship and the feeling of warmth towards the sometimes controversial driver. He doesn't always get it right, but you know that he's thankful to be where he is and that he'll work as hard as possible to get (back) to the top.

Gold medallist - Daniel Ricciardo

Where do you start with this guy? His strong Australian accent immediately endears you to him, and when you combine that with those pearly white teeth always on display and an attitude to life that can only be admired, it's a wonder Ricciardo didn't wrap up the rankings championship from the very start.

Many of the positive points handed to Ricciardo this year have been for his reactions to the mundane - walking into the media pen with a dance, attempting to engage a serious looking engineer with some terrible dancing, and playing a game live on Sky tv with... actually, more dancing! You just get the feeling that he's constantly loving every minute of each day, and even in the trickier times, there's still an optimistic undercurrent to his conversations that is lovely to see.

All the drivers did a great job this year, providing entertainment in what could otherwise have been a boringly dominated, politically charged season. I think it was a lot of fun, and I know we have these three in particular to thank for that. A raised glass, then, to our finalists and to the 2014 Rankings Champion, Daniel Ricciardo!

All content in the series Driver rankings 2014