In terms of rebounding from a season in which he had scored just two podiums and no wins, 2019 was a banner year for Pagenaud. Compared with '18, Pagenaud’s best days were better, and there were fewer bad days, resulting in a runner-up finish in the title race.
Pagenaud landed three wins including – most importantly by far – the Indianapolis 500, after a thrilling battle in the closing stages with Alexander Rossi. In fact, more often than not, Pagenaud looked like the driver who had excelled in the downforce-smothered manufacturer aerokit era and won the drivers’ title in 2016.
That said, there is still plenty of work to be done to make him fully comfortable with the current car when it comes to qualifying, as there were tracks on which he was nowhere compared with his Penske team-mates Josef Newgarden and Will Power. But, reassuringly (if you were Roger Penske), Pagenaud’s self-confidence returned so that his talents glimmered once more.
He was much more combative – see his perfect wet-weather drive in the Indy road-course race and his fight with Scott Dixon in the season finale at Laguna Seca – and he was also able to resist all pressure while running up front (quashing all rivals) at Toronto.