ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Will Power has been ruled out of the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a dramatic twist to kick off the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Per Verizon Team Penske, Power suffered through nausea throughout the day on Saturday but still pressed onto score the pole position (Verizon P1 Award).
As Power was still feeling the effects of his ailment on Sunday, Oriol Servia was drafted in as a last-minute replacement for the warmup, and will race for him.
Servia will take the start from the rear of the 22-car field, per a rule that states a substitute driver is moved to the back. Simon Pagenaud will take over P1 on the starting grid.
Here’s the release from the team:
As Will Power continues to feel the effects of nausea on Sunday, Team Penske has made the decision to start Oriol Servia in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Power fought through three rounds of qualifying and won his sixth career pole position at St. Pete on Saturday to lead a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 qualifying result. He has continued to battle an illness and will not compete in Sunday’s 110-lap race.
Servia, the 41-year-old veteran of 197 IndyCar races, drove the No. 12 Verizon Chevy in the morning warm-up on Sunday and finished ninth in the final practice session before today’s race. Per INDYCAR rules, Servia will start today’s race from the back of the field.
“Obviously this is a very difficult decision to make in the first race of the season, but Will’s health and safety is the most important thing to consider,” said Penske Racing President Tim Cindric. “We hope Will makes a speedy recovery and with Oriol’s professionalism and experience, we know he’ll do a solid job for our team.”
Servia most recently raced in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway where he earned a 12th-place finish.
“I feel terrible for Will and just hope he feels better soon as he was my teammate a few years ago and he’s a good friend,” said Servia. “It’s not the way you want to get the opportunity to drive for Team Penske, but it will be an honor to race for the team and drive the fastest car on the grid today.”