• Dec 18th 2006 at 9:04AM
  • 13

The world of motorsports was watching when Sebastien Bourdais got back behind the wheel of an F1 car on Thursday at the Jerez test track, and managed to get within spitting distance of Scott Speed's lap times in the same Red Bull car.

The reigning champ of Champ Cars, Sebastien Bourdais is an irrefutably talented driver. He's got three Champ Car titles under his belt, along with the Formula 3000 championship from 2002 and the French Formula 3 title from 1999. Bourdais is a winner, plain and simple. But despite its stature as the pinnacle of motorsports, supposedly flaunting the best drivers in racing, Formula One has been missing out on Bourdais.

Thursday's test was not the French driver's first time behind the wheel of an F1 car. In 2002 he tested for Arrows and for Renault. Arrows didn't pan out, and Renault missed the opportunity when Flavio Briatore insisted that Bourdais sign an additional personal management contract with him if he wanted to join the team. More recently BMW failed to snatch him up as well.

As a French driver who made his name in American racing, Bourdais could bring with him audiences from both countries; convenient for F1, since it's has been lagging in popularity in both France and the US. Several leading teams (McLaren and Renault, we're looking at you) have delved straight into the feeder series to fill race seats for next season, while Bourdais returns to dominate in Champ Cars for yet another season. F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, being the shrewd operator he is, could do worse than to recognize the talent they're missing out on and make some suggestions to team principals lest a talent like Bourdais go to waste in a dying series.

[Source: GrandPrix.com]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I personally slandered Champ Car heavily over the last couple years. I said that they were fools to not merge with the IRL at all costs a couple years back. That is, because the IRL had the only race worth talking about (the Indy 500), Champ Car was obviously doomed.

      Well, I'll man up and say I was wrong.

      Champ Car is quite a ways from out of the woods, but they are doing a lot of things right right now. The level of excitement and competition is getting better and better all the time, despite Tracy running into nearly everything that moved. His move exiting from the runoff lane in San Jose was astoundingly stupid.

      I think that Champ's use of iron rotors really helps the competition there. With push to pass and the various other aero things they are trying, the ability to pass is much much higher than in F1, even if it still is too low to generate a lot of real excitement.

      Honestly though, despite Champ Car's efforts, I'd really rather see sports car racing ascend to replace open wheel. I've been very excited by the success enjoyed by Grand Am over the last two years. I think the combination of a semi-spec series with the geater forgiveness of closed wheels increases the excitement a lot by adding much more passing. Now if they could just do something with the ugly, ugly cars.

      Anyway, Champ will have to stay on their toes. People in San Jose will not forever pay $150 a seat to watch a race which due to the k-rails and street layout you can't even see from a seated position and even if you saw it you'd see there is no passing. Champ will have to continually rotate their lesser street races (meaning not Long Beach or Surfers Paradise) between cities so that the novelty of a local race continues to drive ticket sales to these events that are better experienced on TV (and made for TV) anyway.

      I still think the split is very bad for open wheel racing in the US. But Champ has the upper hand now.
      • 8 Years Ago
      BMW have Heidfeld, Kubica, Vettel in their lineup...

      You're sadly mistaken if you feel they're at all lacking in talent; if anything they're absolutely laden with it...

      There's no place for Bourdais at BMW, lets be honest and realistic...
      • 8 Years Ago
      LOL HotRod got owned.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ----->3. Real racing? Last time I checked driving includes both left and right turns. That excludes 'Chump' cars. And "NECKCAR" also.

      And F1 is just an expensive parade. Boring.


      You obviously don't squat about the Champ Cars series. None of the tracks on the 2007 series schedule, is a true (Left Turn Only) oval. The gIRL series is the Oval track racing series.


      Next time know what the hell you are speaking about before you speak.

      Agreed on F1 being just a high-tech, high-buck parade.

      Nothing beats sports car racing.

      • 8 Years Ago
      F1 one is where the money is, can't blame a guy for wanting to make some money. But real racing is Champ Car and it is very much on the way back up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ...dying series...
      Slowly but surely Chamocar is rising above the ashes of CART. Meantime F1 loses out on some of the best riving talent as they need PAY drivers to fill the coffers of lower teams and Cosworth has just been squeezed out of F1 by the major name manufacturers.

      Ever been to a Champcar race Mr write? Try Long Beach of the Aussie GP or some of the other races which attract 2-300K for a weekend. Sure te split between CART and IRL still damages Champcar. But if you watched the last race of the Champcar season you would have enjoyed that race.

      Dying: Nope.
      F1 missing out on Bourdais: Yup.

      You want to write a good OW article? Well study the spec and innovation of the hmpcar DP01 and it's attempt to reduce the dirty air which plagues all OW racing including specifically F1. If the CC technicians have done their homewrok well then Champcar racing excitement could well go up 2 levels in 2007.
      And in case anyone missunderstands I am also a fan of F1.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Real racing? Last time I checked driving includes both left and right turns. That excludes 'Chump' cars. And "NECKCAR" also.

      And F1 is just an expensive parade. Boring.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually Bourdais beat both Luizi's and Speed's laptimes.
      But being a Champ Car ace doesn't mean he'll succeed in F1 - look at Zanardi's tenure at Williams.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well HotRod you truly know your stuff don't you LOL;)

      You truly understand that ALL the Champcar races schedule in 2007 is on either road or street courses (left and right truns so you understand) and Champcar has NOT a single Oval on their schedule. Not that zero Ovals is a good thing mind you.
      Just ask Paul Stoddart what he thinks of Champcar versus F1:)
      I agree that OW lately has had a tendency towards single file racing (in part because of the dirty sair issue) just check my previous post for why that may be remdied in Champcar 2007.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that the 'dying series' opinion is uninformed at best, and sheer bias at worst. Just because of some moves that Champ Car has taken in the past few years might not be to the author's taste, that doesn't mean it is 'dying'. CART is dead, yes, but Champ Car is experiencing growth and attracting more fans. There's a chance that it will never regain the popularity of what CART was, but there's a lot of fans who just don't care, and enjoy it for what it is.

      There are a lot of us who would love to see Sebastian in F1, as long as he got a decent ride, but he's not wasted in Champ Cars either - he's a touchstone for the series, and a pleasure to watch race.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Until the above "dying series" comment, my impression was that Autoblog was unbiased in its reporting of North American Open Wheel racing. You've lost me.
      • 8 Years Ago
      HotRod - "Real racing? Last time I checked driving includes both left and right turns. That excludes 'Chump' cars. And "NECKCAR" also.

      And F1 is just an expensive parade. Boring."

      You are confusing your series. Next year, Champ Cars will be an all road and street course series. You are most likely thinking of the IRL, which you correctly surmise as requiring little to no skill of the drivers, whom for the most part, place a brick on the throttle and sleep for 2 hours during a race.
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