Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012:
Le Mans, France
February 28, 1979
Crash.net IndyCar Driver of 2011 position:
After running a no-ovals partial campaign in 2011, Sebastien Bourdais was finally ready to commit himself to a full 15-race season in 2012, with the four-time Champ Car champion clearly setting his sights on a first IndyCar title. Unfortunately, that ambition was hobbled from the start by circumstances beyond his control.
With his former team Dale Coyne Racing preferring to switch back to Justin Wilson this season, Bourdais decamped to Jay Penske's Dragon Racing team - and that meant a Lotus engine which was proved even worse than anyone had feared, even though Bourdais stood alone as the one driver able to wring a race-worthy performance out of the thing.
By the time Dragon extricated itself from the Lotus debacle there was a lack of replacement engine deals and Dragon had to drop down to a one-car outfit with Bourdais sharing the seat with Katherine Legge - ironically restoring him to his 2011 status as a road course-only specialist for the latter half of the season.
Even so, he qualified in the top six in four of his last five outings and put in a season-best finish of fourth at Mid-Ohio to remind us all just how good the Frenchman is when he gets the opportunity to shine.
Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012 results so far:
7. Sebastien Bourdais
8. Takuma Sato
9. Justin Wilson
10. Dario Franchitti