Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sebastien Bourdais, A Force To be Reckon With ?


Born into a racing family (his father Patrick races in touring cars, hill climbs, and sports cars), Bourdais began his racing career at age 10 in karts. During the early 1990s, he competed in a variety of karting championships, winning the Maine Bretagne League in 1991 and the Cadet France championship in 1993.

Junior formulae

Bourdais progressed to single-seater racing in 1995, finishing 9th in the Formula Campus Championship. He then spent two years in the French Formula Renault Championship, ultimately finishing second in points in 1997 after winning four races and five pole positions. In 1998, he won five races to become Rookie of the Year (6th overall) in French Formula 3. He won the series outright in 1999, with eight wins and three poles.

Formula 3000

Following his success in the lower formulae, Bourdais joined the Prost Junior Team in the International F3000 Championship. He finished ninth in the series with one pole and a best finish of second. In 2001, Bourdais moved to the DAMS team in Formula 3000 and took his first win in the series at Silverstone. He changed teams again for 2002, taking his Super Nova Racing car to three victories and seven pole positions. He beat Giorgio Pantano to the championship by two points after championship Tomáš Enge, who had scored the most points, was penalised for failing a drug test.

Champ Car

Bourdais won his second Champ Car title in 2005.
Following in the footsteps of recent F3000 graduates such as Juan Pablo Montoya and Bruno Junqueira, Bourdais moved to Champ Car racing in the United States and joined Newman-Haas Racing for the 2003 season. At St. Petersburg, FL, Bourdais became the first rookie since Nigel Mansell to claim pole position for his very first race. However, he did not finish higher than 11th until his fourth race, when he led 95 laps en route to his first Champ Car victory at Brands Hatch.

He followed this up with another victory at Lausitzring. By the end of the season, he had earned five more podium finishes, including a win from pole at Cleveland. With a runner-up finish in Mexico City, he clinched the Rookie of the Year title and finished 4th in the overall standings.
Staying with Newman-Haas for 2004, Bourdais dominated the Champ Car series with seven wins and eight poles in his McDonald's-sponsored Lola, beating his team mate Junqueira by 28 points. His record also included podium finishes in 10 out of 14 events and qualifying results no lower than third all season.

Bourdais successfully defended his Champ Car title in 2005 with five wins in six races towards the end of the season, again with the Newman-Haas/Lanigan team. That May, he also finished 12th in his first Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais won a third consecutive Champ Car title in 2006. His season began with four consecutive victories at Long Beach, Houston, Monterrey, and Milwaukee, although his winning streak was ended by the emergence of A. J. Allmendinger, who won three races in a row through the middle of the season. Bourdais responded with a commanding victory from pole at San Jose, leaving him leading the Champ Car points standings.
However, an incident with his arch-rival Paul Tracy that knocked him out on the final lap of the following race in Denver, and a subsequent win by Allmendinger narrowed the gap between the two. Bourdais's win in Montreal and Allmendinger's DNF had widened his points lead to 62 points with three races left, and Bourdais clinched the championship at the next race in Surfers Paradise despite a weak performance in that race. Bourdais became the first Champ Car driver to win three consecutive titles since Ted Horn achieved the hat trick in 1948.
Bourdais won a fourth consecutive Champ Car title in 2007 with victory at Lexmark Indy 300 on October 21.

Formula One

Pre-Champ Car

In 2002, Bourdais got his first F1 test with the Arrows team and was signed on to drive for the team but the team were on the verge of bankruptcy. In December he tested for Renault at Jerez but fellow Frenchman Franck Montagny secured the test drive instead of Bourdais - rumours suggested that Bourdais did not wish to sign a management deal with Renault boss Flavio Briatore in addition to a Renault contract.

Toro Rosso

Sébastien returned to F1 in 2007 after being given several tests with Scuderia Toro Rosso. On August 10, 2007 it was announced that Bourdais would race for Toro Rosso in 2008, replacing Vitantonio Liuzzi, and partnering Sebastian Vettel.

  • In my humble opinion, as Toro rosso are starting the season on the old car, it will take a few races for Sebastien to get up to speed but with the new car coming in later we should see him in mid table regularly and probably a few top 8 finish as well.

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