After the tragic way that the IndyCar Series championship ended in 2011, everyone was hoping to put the sad memories behind them and get on with a vintage year of thrilling racing action. And by and large, that's exactly what the teams and drivers delivered throughout 2012. And we want to know which driver impressed you most of all!
For starters there was a brilliant return to winning ways for Helio Castroneves at the season opener in St Petersburg, which climaxed with him performing his Spider-Man climb up the safety fence to point at the street sign at the part of the circuit where his car had come to a stop - poignantly, it was 'Dan Wheldon Way.' A few weeks later, the Indianapolis 500 more than lived up to expectations and delivered another dramatic last lap incident that this time handed Dario Franchitti his third win in the event. But overall, things weren't looking so good for Franchitti and his team, Ganassi Racing. With the introduction of the new DW12 chassis for everyone coupled with new specification engines from three different suppliers, it was clear that the Chevrolet-powered teams had the upper hand over those relying on Honda units (and don't even ask about those saddled with Lotus engines.) Penske's Will Power stormed into a commanding early lead, but post-Indy, it was Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay who put together his own hat-trick of consecutive wins to put himself into the mix going into the season finale at Fontana. Power crashed out and watched from the sidelines as Hunter-Reay clinched the title.
So does that make Hunter-Reay your driver of the season? Or does Power get your vote of sympathy for so nearly pulling it off? What about Franchitti and his landmark third Indy 500 victory? Or his Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon quietly but effectively working his way up to third in the standings ahead of Castroneves, undone only by too many technical problems for the team and for its engine provider Honda? Or maybe your hero of 2012 is someone else entirely, such as Sebastien Bourdais who was the only driver able to wring a decent showing out of the Lotus engine and who only got stronger as the season went on following his team's switch to Chevy power?
Who is your IndyCar Driver of the Year? It's your chance to VOTE NOW!
There's lots to think about, with your chance to let us know what you thought of the performances of the 26 full-time IndyCar Series drivers in 2012. Simply rate each one out of ten and once voting is complete we'll let you know how they all fared. To start submitting your driver ratings, all you have to do is CLICK HERE.