Berger backs Bourdais to shine in F1
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, August 15th 2007, 11:57 GMT|
Scuderia Toro Rosso owner Gerhard Berger is confident Sebastien Bourdais can break the mould of Champ Car champions who have flopped in Formula One by making a successful switch to Grand Prix racing next year.
Bourdais has just signed a deal to join Toro Rosso alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2008 after impressing for the team in several test outings this year.
But with Alex Zanardi and Cristiano da Matta having failed to shine when they switched from Champ Car to F1, the jury is out on whether Bourdais will be able to show as well in Grands Prix as he has done in America.
Speaking exclusively to this week's Autosport, Berger recognises the difficulties that Zanardi and da Matta had, but is upbeat that Bourdais can shine.
When asked whether he was worried that Bourdais could have the same troubles as Zanardi and da Matta, he said: "That was the only concern I had and I still have.
"But I think, at the end of the day, to win championships you need a certain mentality. It doesn't matter what formula you are in, you have quick guys who never win anything and other guys who are always winning at the end of the day championships. That is a very important thing and this he (Bourdais) definitely has.
"When I see the last weekend (at Elkhart Lake) he was 1.5 seconds quicker on pole! At the end of the day he is fast. He has showed everything, every sign he has showed, that he should be quick."
Berger said that the decision to pursue Bourdais was prompted by the team feeling that he was their best opportunity to get a true frontline driver.
"It was a bit early for Toro Rosso to get one of the quick guys like (Fernando) Alonso and (Lewis) Hamilton. And at the end of the day the driver is becoming more and more important, especially next year with traction control gone.
"We thought it wise to look at a young one, but not just young ones, one with a bit of race experience. So we had to look at others, some of the others with potential, and not yet in F1. And the only one was Bourdais.
"I have looked at him for two years and I always asked myself, just how good is he? He did an excellent job in America, he won F3, F3000, he won three times Champ Car and he is leading this time, so theoretically there is potential. And I still it is fine to take the risk.
"Let's give him the chance, that is what we did in testing, and also in testing he did a good job for us, he worked well with the engineers, he was quick straightaway, he did not do any damage, he was very fit.
"Everything he did he showed his potential. We thought it could be a chance for us to get a really, really good driver."