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Bourdais – right bloke for the job
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Bourdais – right bloke for the job
Posted By:   |  06 Feb 2009   |  10:43 am GMT  |  0 comments

Sebastien Bourdais has been given the nod by Toro Rosso for next season, alongside Sebastien Buemi. That’s three Sebastien’s in two seasons for that team, they seem to have a production line.

I liked the look of Bourdais at the start and end of last season, but he fell away in the middle when Toro Rosso got the new car in Monaco and once it got the power boost of the latest spec engines from Ferrari around Silverstone time, Vettel was able to do far more with it. Towards the end of the year, however, Bourdais got his act together and put in some very impressive showings, especially in Belgium and Japan.

Bourdais is an intelligent driver, blindingly competitive in Champ Car, who found the adjustment to F1 harder than he imagined. He definitely has the credentials and the speed for F1, that much is clear from his F3000 days and Champ Car, but the difference between a promising driver and one who delivers in F1 is all in the head and there were times last year when he seemed to be cracking up. He wasn’t always able to deliver up the killer lap in qualifying when the speed was clearly in the car. He took failure really badly and was in tears in Fuji when Massa and he collided and he was penalised and I think he really struggled to deal with Vettel doing a better job in the same car. It was also clear that the team and the Red Bull establishment all love Vettel and saw him as their golden boy and when you’ve been used to having it all your own way and being feted as the ultimate champion (as Bourdais was in the USA for years) that must take some dealing with.

Some racing drivers don’t need reassurance, but the vast majority do and Bourdais is in that camp, I reckon. That said, I think he’ll do well this year, even though I imagine Toro Rosso might fall back in competitiveness a little. But I’ve not seen anything from Buemi which makes me think he’s another Vettel. He does have powerful support from Helmut Marko, who is an important man in Mr Mateschitz’s racing world.

As I said yesterday Buemi is a rookie and there’s probably never been a tougher time to be a rookie in F1, with so little opportunity to drive the car outside of race weekends. The other really tough time I can remember was 1993 when drivers were limited on practice and qualifying laps. I worked closely with Michael Andretti for US TV that year and it was a nightmare for him.

With that in mind, having some experience and technical ability not ot mention continuity in the other car will be important for Toro Rosso.

The news leaves Takuma Sato again out of F1. He has had his chances, more than Anthony Davidson, but like his former F3 team mate, he finds himself on the shelf and it is tough to imagine a way back in.

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  1. Bourdais, Davidson, Klien, Liuzzi … All drivers who deserve a second chance at F1 before Sato gets his fourth shot. Glad Bourdais got the gig.

  2. wabsnasm says:

    I agree that Bourdais should be given another chance to show his potential in F1, but for me as a Sato fan it’s sad not to see him driving this year.

  3. Jason C says:

    Ooh! my above comment (labelled ‘wabsnasm’) must have come from some other login… weird. [ that's just how it landed ... curiouser and curiouser -- moderator ]

  4. Finn says:

    Think Seb B deserves a second chance … the talent is clearly there: I just hope he find the confidence he needs to be able to deliver on a regular basis.

    Nothing breeds confidence like success, and nothing breeds success like confidence.

    We still have POSSIBLE seats at ‘Honda’ … I’d like to see Senna get his F1 boots dirty.

    Wonder if all the drivers who have seats now will make it through the whole season …. anyone to be replaced mid-way through, perhaps? Fisi?

  5. Akshay says:

    “But I’ve not seen anything from Buemi which makes me think he’s another Vettel.” What do you make of his supremely impressive testing form? I know very well that even Force India can top the timesheets during testing, but seriously, on all his days of testing, except for one somewhere in between, he tops the sheets and that too by quite a margin, is something that has impressed me a lot. While it is true that his racing performance is yet to be seen, I’m putting my money on him and he’ll probably collect over 20 points this season, after all, he’s Swiss, like Federer. He should do well!! :P

  6. Al27 says:

    I don’t rate Bourdais. He did poorly overall, and was crushed by his team mate, which is always a bad sign.

    Berger admitted that Scott Speed and Luizzi had no place at STR and just think of the time that was wasted with those two.

    Look back at when Schumacher, Villeneuve and Hamilton started. Regardless of them being in decent cars, I don’t recall them needing a warm up season.

    Which is why I also fear for Piquet Jnr.

  7. Lee Grant says:

    I’m really chuffed that Bourdais has been given a second chance.

    I watch Buemi all season long in GP2 and I cannot say that I recall anything stunning – I certainly don’t think he was a match for Senna, Di Grassi or dare I even mention Pantano (will he always wonder what he could have done if he’d been given another chance?).

    When the FIA cut costs even more and we can all run a team for a year and still get change from a tenner – I’d buy an F1 team just to put Anthony Davidson back in a car! Surely he has to be part of the Honda package (currently at £5.53 on Ebay!) for any buyer.

    We can all imagine how difficult it must be to get an F1 seat – I can think of a few current drivers that must be hoping that their bosses haven’t yet noticed that they still haven’t delivered the goods.

    G’day!

  8. F1Wolf says:

    As a Sato fan I was hoping that he would get the (unlikely) nod :-) . But I agree that Bourdais was the logical choice and I believe if the whole thing did not come down to money he would have been confirmed long ago.

  9. MauriceMinor says:

    Akshay – I think you’ll find that Buemi was driving a 2008 spec car while all around him were testing the 2009 spec (or parts of the 2009 spec). The 2009 spec is designed to slow down the cars.

  10. Steven says:

    Glad to see Bourdais get the seat ahead of Sato but being nationalistic I would have rather seen the seat go to Anthony Davidson or Jenson Button. I hope someone saves Honda Racing now to allow Jenson (who I still rate as my favourite British driver) to race next year.

  11. Spot on James. I was delighted with Bourdais’s appointment, had to laugh at STR’s site when they claimed that ‘it was the worst kept secret’ in F1 that Bourdais would get the 2nd seat. Sounds like to be they’re putting a spin on it because it hasn’t been a secret if it is one for long considering they’ve left it this long.

    His haul of 4 points could’ve been more but for the last lap drama in Spa, the Massa incident in Fuji and lets not 4get his engine giving up on him in Melbourne when in 4th (although on that occasion he was only in the position because other ppl had retired) and he was doing well to hold of the Heikki/Alonso battle behind him. Anyway the regulation changes i think will suit him and i think him and Buemi should do well. Bourdais should score between 10-14 points next season. Any news on Honda’s situation btw?

  12. Mike Ellison says:

    James, what was your take on Michael Andretti’s difficulties with F1? I always had the impression that it was the braking that he never quite nailed, that he never quite believed how late he could brake in an F1 car compared to what he was used to. Or was it that the feel of the F1 brakes didn’t give him the confidence to use all that extra stopping power?

  13. john g says:

    I’m glad bourdais got a second shot, most of the time he wasn’t that far away from what i believe was a special team mate in vettel, who having met and watched from his first F1 test onwards i rate very highly.

    shame that sato is left out as i think he brings quite a lot to the paddock. not seen anything to really endear me to buemi, the only thing i have ever noted about him is that he spun the safety car at brazil last year (i think)

  14. speedmerchants says:

    JA writes: Mike, it was a strange one really the Michael Andretti story. You could look at a number of areas, but I’m not sure it was a lack of ability in one certain area as you suggest. He had plenty of time to acclimatise as Villeneuve etc had. And having seen him in the USA in Indycars he was very fast, no question about that and a great racer.

    As far as I could see, it was that he was like a fish out of water in F1 – he didn’t have any experience of the culture, the European travel and so on, he was lost basically. It didn’t help that he insisted on coming across from the States on Concorde for races and tests, instead of basing himself in the UK. So his confidence was low and F1 is a tough environment.

    He seemed to get on okay in the car, but he was shaded by Hakkinen in the pre season tests and always had him breathing down his neck, and then having Senna as a team mate is enough to do anyone’s head in.

  15. Malcolm46 says:

    Yes. I’m pleased Bourdais gets that rarest of things a second chance, he was unlucky in 08, but he has got to step up to the plate this season and dominate Buemi if he’s got a future of F1. If not, I’m going to change my name to Sebastien so I can get his drive in 2010!!

  16. vonspeex says:

    well i think bourdais a total sissy crying like that in front of the whole world, ridiculous. when sir michael was crying he had good reason (topping senna’s race win record) f1s not his cup of tea. bruno will show em all up!!!

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