IndyCar Driver Preview: Oriol Servia

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#22 Oriol Servia

• Team: Panther + Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
• Engine: Chevrolet
• Sponsors: Mecum Auctions/WIX Filters/Charter/Valspar
• 2012: 13th Place, Four Top Fives

2012 WRAP: After slogging through the first four events with a Lotus engine, DRR struck a strategic alliance with Panther Racing and flipped to Chevrolet power. The change made for an immediate jump in performance, as Servia charged from 27th to fourth at the Indianapolis 500. The Spaniard would also collect top-fives at Belle Isle, Milwaukee and Toronto, but what made him so memorable in 2012 was his ability to overcome poor qualifying results, as he passed a record 107 cars for position over the course of the season.

2013 OUTLOOK: As fun as it was to see Servia slice through the field, one assumes he and Panther + DRR would rather start up front more often and not have so much work for race day. Servia averaged a starting position of 18.3 in 2012, and he started from 20th or worse in seven of 15 races. But he’s proven that he can race his way into the lead pack from anywhere, and if he and his team can improve their qualifying work, Servia stands a good chance of cracking the top 10 in the championship.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”