Coyne confirms Bourdais split: “It’s not what we wanted to do"
Dale Coyne Racing is due to announce later today that it has released four-time Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais, following the recent collapse of a proposed sponsorship deal.
“Letting Sebastien go is sad and it’s got nothing to do with other drivers on the market or anything like that,” Coyne told Motorsport.com. “It’s very unfortunate. It’s due to a funding issue. Something big fell through about two-and-a-half weeks ago.
“We got the bad news just before we went testing with Sebastien at Sebring [with the new aeroscreen] on November 5. We broke it to everyone the night of that test. It was sad. It is sad. He’s a victim of circumstances that were largely out of our control.”
Coyne said he thinks Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan will remain as co-entrants of the #18 DCR-Honda, and also believes technical director Craig Hampson will stay with the squad.
“He’s sad too,” Coyne commented. “Craig and Seb have been friends for many, many years, and had a lot of success together, so he’s not happy with what’s happened. But he understands, too, and I think he’ll stick with us.”
Meanwhile Coyne is confident, too, that Santino Ferrucci will renew his deal with the squad, and that he can step up as team leader should it be a rookie who gets slotted into the #18 car.
“Time will tell,” said Coyne, “but yeah, providing he stays – and I’m pretty sure he will – Santino can do a good job for the team. I mean, he is already the team leader on the ovals, right? He’s been stellar. He should have won Gateway, and he finished fourth in the ‘oval championship’. Seventeenth on the road and street courses, but still – he looked decent and didn’t make many big mistakes. He’ll be fine.”
Asked if he had spoken to James Hinchcliffe, who was released by Arrow McLaren SP, Coyne said: “Oh sure, we’ve been in contact with James, as I’m sure a lot of people have. But as I said, that’s not why we’ve ended things with Sebastien.”
On the subject of other potential drivers, Coyne didn’t wish to go into details, but stressed again, “This has nothing to do with anyone else becoming available. It’s about us needing a driver with funding.”
Reflecting on the last three years with Bourdais, Coyne said: “I think he’s been really good. We’ve enjoyed having someone of that status in our cars, and winning back-to-back St. Pete races [2017 and ’18] was great. Being the fastest car in Indy practice two of the last three years and second fastest this year has also been great. Sebastien was insanely fast.”
Asked if there was any chance of reversing this decision should he land a huge sponsor, Coyne said: “No. Sebastien is looking at other options – in fact he was investigating even before this happened – so it’s only fair to let him continue doing that.
"We wish him well, and I’m sure he’ll be racing something next year.”
UPDATE: In a press release, team co-owners Vasser and Sullivan said: “We both want to thank Sebastien for the outstanding job he did driving for our teams KVSH Racing and Dale Coyne Racing Vasser-Sullivan. Looking back, Seb has driven 84 races for us. In that time, we captured poles and won a lot of races.
"Sebastien is a great friend, a great driver, a true champion and a fantastic ambassador for our partners and Indy car racing. We wish him the best of luck in the next phase of his career where we hope there will be an opportunity for us to race together again.”
Bourdais commented: "I want to thank Dale, Jimmy and Sulli for giving me this opportunity to continue racing in the NTT IndyCar Series over the past few years. I look forward to pursuing new opportunities in racing in the years ahead."
Ed Carpenter Racing signs VeeKay for 2020 IndyCar season
Orudzhev aiming for IndyCar future after Lights test