Bourdais and Sevilla striking for Spanish hat-trick 03/11/2009 - Sebastien Bourdais might not have been in Superleague Formula for long but the multiple Champ Car champion has certainly made his mark after just two rounds and heads into his ...
Bourdais and Sevilla striking for Spanish hat-trick
03/11/2009 - Sebastien Bourdais might not have been in Superleague Formula for long but the multiple Champ Car champion has certainly made his mark after just two rounds and heads into his Sevilla squad's home race at Jarama as one of the favourites this weekend.
The signs for his rivals were ominous from the beginning after the Frenchman netted a podium finish in only his second start at Estoril before winning the EURO 100,000 Super Final having started sixth. That form then continued at Monza a month later where, after securing pole position, he duly reeled off the opening race before scything through from the tail of the reverse grid second to finish third.
On the podium for the last four races, it's logical to assume that the former Toro Rosso F1 driver would have been in the championship mix had he contested all five rounds held so far this season. As it is, he's instead keen to finish the season on a high note, racing pressure free while the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham squabble over the ultimate prize.
"Jarama's a track I've never been to and I think we generally struggle a little bit in slow speed corners with balance issues so we'll see how it goes," he admits. "But obviously we're on a roll and have enjoyed two really good weekends so we've learnt what to do to become competitive. We've got a good chance. There are a few new things for me there, particularly the track."
Given previous achievements and titles, Bourdais is the first to admit that he already had the necessary skills to tame Superleague Formula's V12-powered single seater and that anything less than victories could have been deemed a failure.
"It's a car that's pretty close to a few things I've driven before and because I've been around a while I've also had my fair share of experiences," he says. "I had to adapt pretty quickly otherwise I wouldn't have been competitive so it's good that it worked out and I've enjoyed the car and series. We visited two tracks that I already knew and I think that the transition has been pretty successful. But it's been quite a bit harder than the results show, particularly at the first weekend in Estoril, but overall if I wasn't fighting at the front then there would have been a problem!"
Despite his high-profile F1-exit, Bourdais remains one of the most accomplished all-round racing drivers on the planet. His exceptional junior formulae CV contains a French F3 crown from 1999 (still the youngest ever winner of the championship) and F3000 title (replaced by GP2) in 2002. With limited options in F1 despite a Renault Driver Development deal in recognition of his talent, he moved across the Atlantic to Champ Car where, just like in Superleague this season, he proved instantly quick, finishing fourth overall and top rookie in his debut campaign. What followed was an unprecedented run of four consecutive titles between 2003 and '07 before the long-awaited switch to F1.
Successful sportscar appearances have also been a feature of his career with runners-up trophies earned at endurance racing's two biggest events - the Le Mans 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours - driving for Peugeot this season.
Bourdais became the fourth ex-F1 driver to join the Superleague fold this season, lining up alongside the likes of Giorgio Pantano, Antonio Pizzonia and Enrique Bernoldi. But despite leaving behind the glamorous setting of a grand prix paddock in favour of Superleague's football-themed surroundings, the man himself has no doubt as to where he'd rather be.
"I think the series is very well run and puts on a good show for the crowd. In the meantime there's a lot less pressure. Everyone's still doing their job but enjoying it more than in Formula 1 just because there's not the same stress or pressure for results. So it's a very different atmosphere where the fans can get closer to the cars and is a lot friendlier, rather than just a business."
With two wins from as many rounds already under his belt, few would bet against Bourdais making it a Sevilla hat-trick on home soil.