MIAMI – He hasn’t been in a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 10 months, but with four FIA Formula E races under his belt since September, Oriol Servia has still banked more seat time than most of his IndyCar driver colleagues lately.
Now though, the popular Catalan is embracing his new role as partner and managing director of Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing, having been confirmed to the new role earlier this week.
It’s an interesting contrast for Servia, now 40, who spent parts of the 2000 through 2014 seasons (except 2010) with 11 different teams in CART, Champ Car or IndyCar – and Dragon isn’t among them.
But with his base in California near the team’s Los Angeles area headquarters, and with Penske looking to expand Servia’s role within the team, the new role made sense.
“Hopefully it’s a good one,” Servia said of his move during Friday’s FIA Formula E driver press conference. “Since I joined the series, and joining the team with Jay, I liked where the championship was going.
“From the beginning I was going to be involved in managing and operations. We decided I’d start driving because it’s what I’ve done all my life. I didn’t give up the wheel that easy, trust me.
“But a couple things happened. Loic Duval became available, and we’ve regarded him highly for a while. We saw the opportunity of me taking on a bigger role.”
Servia’s career ran the gamut in IndyCar of these teams: PPI, Sigma Autosport, PWR Championship Racing (the former PacWest), Patrick Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Newman/Haas Racing (three stints), KV Racing Technology (three stints), Forsythe Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (two stints), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Panther Racing.
Of those 11 teams, only Coyne, KVRT and RLL still field full-time teams in IndyCar, with DRR likely set for another Indy-only appearance this season.
But the year Servia didn’t race in IndyCar, in 2010, he struck up a relationship with Michael Andretti and got a taste of the managerial side of affairs.
“Something I liked through my career in IndyCar is that I’ve been through a lot of good, and maybe not so good teams,” Servia said. “In 2010, when I wasn’t driving, Michael hired me as a consultant for a few races.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve got along with Jay well for a few years. We saw a great opportunity for me to step up more on the technical and commercial side of the team.”
Will Servia’s managerial role prevent him from a possible Indianapolis 500 appearance? The answer, definitively, is no.
“We’ve had some good conversations… it’s looking good,” Servia told this writer with a smile, but without giving anything else away.
Servia’s two drivers this weekend are his aforementioned replacement, Duval, and Belgian ex-Formula 1 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio.
Dragon Racing enters the weekend fifth in the Team’s Championship, with 38 points.