Servia on passing 46 cars in the Indy 500: “I was on fire!”

Oriol Servia says that his performance at this year’s Indy 500 was one of his best and he hopes it will lead to further races – ideally, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Scuderia Corsa.

Servia on passing 46 cars in the Indy 500: “I was on fire!”
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda, with team owner Giacomo Mattioli
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda, Bobby Rahal
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda
Oriol Servia, Scuderia Corsa with RLL Honda

Servia, driving a third RLLR-Honda entered by sportscar team Scuderia Corsa, passed more cars than any other driver and worked his way up from near the back of the grid to lead 16 laps – more than all except Ed Carpenter, Will Power and Tony Kanaan.

The 43-year-old veteran was leading the last stint until being jumped by Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey on the final restart, although they would have to pit onLap 196 for a splash of fuel. Then Servia himself, running second to Power, had to also splash-n-dash on 198.

“It was a great race, not so much for what people saw at the end, but for the rest of the race. Great effort," he said.

“Honestly I felt I was on fire in the second half of the race and someone told me I passed 46 cars. I started 26th, I passed 46 cars, and I finished 17th. I’m not very good at math, but… how is this possible?!”

Servia admitted that at the time, he did not agree with the team’s policy of switching to an alternate strategy in the final quarter of the race, because he’d been able to pass so many cars legitimately on track, but accepted they were playing to win, whereas he didn’t have the speed to combat Power and Carpenter.

“So this is what happened: 44 laps to go, the team called me in and said, 'We’re trying to go to the end.' The stint before that I had passed seven cars, so when they called me in, I didn’t want to go because I worked the whole race to get here. I was not happy to give up track position.

“But I cannot really be upset about it because we only needed two more laps of yellow to make it on their strategy. You know, in the same way I took big risks on track, they took big risks on the pitstand, and we’re trying to win.

"A third or a fifth place wasn’t going to change my life. A win would, and that’s what we’re here for, so they tried it and honestly, they almost did it. So no problem.

“It was a very good effort by everyone involved, especially when you put it in the perspective that this was a one-off entry, a group of mechanics from the RLL BMW sportscar side, and the engineers were mix and match.

"We were probably the whole month the second or third best Honda, which is great, and we were fighting at the front in two ways, on the racetrack and in the strategy, so I think we can be very satisfied.

“We didn’t have the speed for Will [Power] and Ed [Carpenter], but things can happen so it was worth staying out there for as long as possible in case there was a last yellow.”

Servia was also thrilled that Scuderia Corsa got the whole Indy 500 experience through the two weeks.

“Man, it was a great insight into Indy, wasn’t it?” he said. “We have good solid practice days, then we get there on Saturday believing we could possibly get ourselves into the Fast Nine if we got everything right. Then three hours later we’re almost not getting in the race!

“Then starting at the back, making moves, getting to the front and then pitting from second with only two laps to go! Crazy, crazy…

“So the whole thing was really high on emotion and intensity. It was the whole Indy 500 dose, – no baby doses! Oh my God I love that race.”

Servia said he was confident before the race, despite the struggles through Bump Day and Pole Day.

“Oh, yeah, I was completely certain we’d have a strong racecar,” he recalled. “The Bump Day issue was something going wrong – it took us all Saturday and Sunday to find it, but the basis of the car was absolutely great. Super-happy with the balance.

“We had to start at the back, so I was a little worried there, but I was sure we’d find our way through and the race kind of went the way I expected.

"Some people expected a lot of yellow at the start because of the heat, and trying to not get too close. But I called it – I’d say they’d be conservative at the start, but later people would start risking more.”

Servia said he understood why there were so many incidents in the race, leading to 41 laps run under caution.

“The reason people lost it was that this year the cars would understeer when you got really close to the car in front,” he explained. “So when you’re trying to make something happen to make passes, you start changing the bars and the weightjacker to make the car more positive, give it more front end bite.

"But that’s making the car as loose as possible. The aero is making the car understeer aerodynamically so you’re doing everything in the cockpit to make it loose to counteract that understeer.

“The problem is, if something at the front then catches air or you hit a bump or something, the car is now so mechanically loose that the tail just snaps around on you. You’ve created your own problem with the cockpit tools that had been helping you.”

Servia said that he believed in 2017 he was the best he’d ever been at Indy, and that this year he was still at that level and so he’s eager to return, hopefully with the same team.

“Last year I elevated my game, and this year is back up there, yeah,” he reflected. “So absolutely want to do it again with Scuderia Corsa and RLL.

“It was great, we liked each other, and everyone on the team now feels that we can do it.

“It’s just a hard one. I mean, if you say Scott Dixon is the most complete driver out there and you recognize how great the Ganassi team is, and then you realize that they’ve been together in 17 years and only won the race once…

“Anyway I hope I made a statement that we can win this, and if it’s just the one race we do together, then at least next year we go into it properly prepared with all the experience from this year.”

shares
comments
Did the new Indycar ruin the racing in Indy 500?

Previous article

Did the new Indycar ruin the racing in Indy 500?

Next article

Detroit IndyCar: Bourdais leads Honda-dominated first practice

Detroit IndyCar: Bourdais leads Honda-dominated first practice
Load comments
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021