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.