In Sportscar365’s final award of 2018, we look back at the standout overall driver from the the world of sports car racing.
Driver of the Year — Raffaele Marciello
In only his second year of GT racing, Marciello put on a starring performance not only in Europe but racing Mercedes-AMG GT3s around the world.
The former open-wheel rising star claimed the 2018 Blancpain GT Series drivers’ championship, as well as the Sprint Cup title, and if for not an overanxious closing stage of the season-ending California 8 Hours, likely the Intercontinental GT Challenge crown as well.
Marciello excelled in both the sprint and endurance formats, teaming with Michael Meadows in an AKKA ASP Mercedes to earn two victories in Sprint Cup.
The Mercedes-AMG factory driver just missed out on the Endurance Cup title to Black Falcon’s Luca Stolz, Maro Engel and Yelmer Buurman, but showed terrific consistency with finishes in the top six at all rounds except the Monza opener.
With those two sets of results combined, he was a clear Blancpain GT overall champion.
Most importantly, the former Ferrari F1 junior looks to have found a real home with Mercedes-AMG and showed his maturity as a first-year factory driver despite a busy globe-trotting schedule that also took in Blancpain GT Series Asia and even a one-off outing in Pirelli World Challenge.
While Marciello’s 2017 sports car debut was about getting the feel for the discipline after a strictly open wheel upbringing, this year marked the proper arrival of GT racing’s latest global star.
Honorable Mentions: Fernando Alonso (starring drives in LMP1 debut with Toyota Gazoo Racing), Colin Braun (standout prototype driver in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship), Jean-Eric Vergne (dominant force in European Le Mans Series, WEC race-winner).