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IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011: 5th

You voted Oriol Servia into 5th place in's IndyCar Driver of the Year poll!
Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011:
5. Oriol Servia

Birthplace: Pals, Spain
Team: Newman/Haas Racing
2011 starts: 17
Poles: 0
Wins: 0
Top 5: 6
Top 10: 11
Championship points: 425
Championship position: 4th

Anyone who was being honest at the start of 2011 wouldn't have given Oriol Servia much of a chance of success this year. His team, Newman/Haas Racing, was far from the powerhouse operation that had won championships in the Champ Car World Series; and their decision to return to the veteran Spanish driver with whom they'd had success in 2005 and in four races at the end of 2009 seemed more like a 'play-safe' strategy than one designed to set the racing world alight.

How wrong we would have been, it turned out: Servia's unrelenting consistency and ability to stay out of trouble combined with the teams' reliability meant that Servia had found a place where his raw talent could also shine through. He finished every one of the 17 races of the 2012 season, 11 of them in the top ten for an impressive average finishing position of 8.9.

Servia was in the top five in the points after the first three races, and would stay there for the rest of the year before finally clinching fourth place ahead of more fancied runners such as Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal. And he did it with such deceptive ease: no dramas, just getting the job done.

Adding a win to the year's achievements proved a step too far in a season dominated by the Ganassi/Penske rivalry, but he had his moments: putting the NHR car on the front row for the centennial Indianapolis 500 and then going on to lead 18 laps during the race itself was a definite highlight. And then there was the controversial end to the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Servia surged past Ryan Hunter-Reay as the green flag came out, but the decision from race control was to end the race and declare the positions as they had been before that final misguided restart attempt. If the call had gone the other way then Servia would have been the winner, but the team lost their appeal and had to settle for second place after all - a feat they then repeated at the maiden Baltimore Grand Prix later in the year.

With things looking so positive for Servia (and for James Hinchcliffe, who clearly benefited from having such an experienced team mate as he himself went on to win the Rookie of the Year title) it couldn't have been a bigger shock post-season when Newman/Haas announced that it was shutting down operations and would not be competing in 2012 because of the economic climate. That means for all his excellent work in 2011, Servia is once again out of a race seat next year. He deserves much, much better - and hopefully his performance this year will persuade another IndyCar team that this is indeed the case.

Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011 results so far:

6. Ryan Briscoe
7. James Hinchcliffe
8. Graham Rahal
9. Ed Carpenter
10. JR Hildebrand

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
The start of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29: Alex Tagliani (bottom), Scott Dixon (middle) and Oriol Servia (top) form the front row. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
EJ Viso, Oriol Servia and Helio Castroneves enjoy the local sights and sounds on offer in São Paulo, Brazil ahead of the street race - April 2011 [Picture credit - IndyCar media]
Oriol Servia, who claimed third place on the grid for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Pole Day on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia wait out the rain, talking with race director Brian Barnhart.
Oriol Servia, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon on the podium after the Indy 225 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. August 2011. [Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti and Oriol Servia lead the field to the green flag at the start of the Indy 225 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. August 2011. [Photo Credit: IndyCar Media]
Oriol Servia on track in practice at Motegi. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon Road America
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Will Power Texas
Charlie Kimball
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones feature
IndyCar, Dallara 2018 chassis, [Credit: IndyCar]
Graham Rahal Detroit celebration

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