Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012: 3. Simon Pagenaud

Birthplace: Montmorillon, France Birthdate: May 18, 1984 Team: Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsport 2012 starts: 15 Poles: 0 Wins: 0 Top 5: 6 Top 10: 10 Championship points: 387 Championship position: 5th IndyCar Driver of 2011 position: N/A

For years, Simon Pagenaud has been one of the best-kept secrets in open wheel racing. He originally raced in the Champ Car World Series in 2007 and compared favourably with his Team Australia team mate Will Power, but the unification of Champ Car with the Indy Racing League left him without a seat in the resulting IndyCar series and so he decamped to Le Mans sportscar endurance racing instead - and very successfully, too.

But US open wheel racing remained an itch that Pagenaud needed to scratch, and after a year of IndyCar test sessions and acting as 'super sub' for injured drivers on more than one occasion in 2011 he finally got a full season gig with Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsport. Did he need a while to settle in? A sixth in his d?but at St Petersberg, fifth at Barber, and then second place in Long Beach said not! There were three more podiums over the course of the year, and by the end it wasn't a case of whether or not he'd be rookie of the year but whether he was outright the most impressive driver of 2012, experienced or otherwise.

You've awarded him third place in the IndyCar Driver of the Year vote, well ahead of the likes of Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti, and that confirms just how well the Montmorillon man made his mark in the series this year. We look forward to seeing him top it in 2013.

Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2012 results so far: 3. Simon Pagenaud 4. Scott Dixon 5. James Hinchcliffe 6. Helio Castroneves 7. Sebastien Bourdais 8. Takuma Sato 9. Justin Wilson 10. Dario Franchitti