Q & A with Sebastien Bourdais
Q. How was your third test in a Formula One car?
Sebastien Bourdais: It has been wet! It was good fun on the first morning. I got here for a wet start and then it turned into a dry session, so we only got three runs in the dry. But it was a good first day. I wish we could have done a lot more, but that is the way it was. The weather was very inconsistent in the afternoon.
Every time you go back out, the conditions are very different. It is drizzling in some parts, drying in others. It was very varied and quite difficult to learn anything. But at least we got some tyre data.
Q. You last drove here in 2002. Did it all come back?
SB: Yes. I did a couple of 24 Hours races here, and it came back to my mind pretty quickly. It was quite slow in the Viper and the only adjustment I had to make was for the fastest car I had driven, here, the Formula 3000. That was with the Bus Stop being quite quicker as well, so it was different.
Q. What was your test programme like?
SB: We did a few aero tests, tried some rear wing settings and evaluated the tyre in terms of when we can switch from the intermediate to the standard wet. It was more about having a good time than achieving much.
Q. Do you think you made a good impression on the team?
SB: I guess you will have to ask Franz (Tost, team principal). I was pretty happy with the morning. I settled down quickly, but on the first set of tyres we had some problems so I managed to scare myself. When we put on a new set I could do my fastest lap straightaway, so I was happy.
Q. Are you expecting a decision about next year after his test?
SB: It is all about timing and opportunities. Obviously I am grateful for the team to give me a chance to show what I can do. We've done that, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It is great, but nothing is automatic in this game.
There are lots of things that come to the table, so we have to wait and see if the package is interesting enough. Whether or not they need me, and what I can offer them. We have to wait and see.
Q. You said that the last test happened because you wanted to be fully ready for this test. How ready do you feel?
SB: I think it was good - especially with the way I got up to speed quickly thanks to that session. Without that I would not have been in an F1 car for eight months, so it meant there was only a couple of weeks to refresh my mind. But I have to say the car was easy to drive. It has got a lot of assistance, which helps a lot, and it is pretty forgiving.
Q. Were you in anyway nervous before the test?
SB: No. I was laid back about what I was doing. It is what it is. I know how to do it, and I want to enjoy myself because that is what it is all about. You don't get to drive an F1 car at Spa every day, so I came here trying to get on with it.
Q. Have you adjusted well from the Champ Car?
SB: The cars are so different. I guess I had a short night's sleep and right now I am in fatigue management! It is not very easy. Since May I have been going backwards and forwards between the United States and Europe. It has been exhausting but I guess it has been fun too.
I just wish things were going smoother in Champ Car. But I suppose there is not much I can do about mechanical failures, and people who push you out of the race.
Q. Have you been in touch with Gerhard Berger?
SB: No. I haven't talked to him for quite a while. You know, I think he is obviously the one who got this thing sorted. I am glad he had the curiosity to give me a chance, so he will know if it is a good thing or not for the future.
Q. Are you more convinced than ever that you want to drive in F1 after these three tests?
SB: Am I more convinced of what? I mean, it has always been something I wanted to do. That is the reason I am here. Now, is it going to happen or not? It is impossible to say, and we will see. Like I said, I am just taking all the considerations to do my job, have a good time and enjoy myself. There is not much else I can do anyway.
Q. So there is no deadline as such?
SB: Not really, but towards the end of July we should know something.
Q. Does this test take away any of your attention from Champ Car?
SB: I am used to going from one category to the other. I've done it for many years and I am still doing it more than ever - with F1, Champ Car and sportscars. I feel very fortunate to be able to be engaged in three different professional series. I hate to say that probably it is only going to happen to me once in a lifetime, so I should enjoy it.
Q. How do you rate your chances in Champ Car this year?
SB: Misfortunes and mechanical failures have made it tighter for us. We just need to finish all the races and do it like we have done in the last three years. You get harder seasons from time to time, and this year does not seem to be easy.
I made a mistake in the first race, lost an engine and then got taken out in the last race. So already there are three DNFs, which are too much for sure. You cannot really afford that. Actually we should feel good about the fact that we are still in the championship.
If we manage to finish the races from now on, we should be in a good shape. From the races we finish, we finish in second, so I guess the average is pretty good
Q. What is it with Robert Doornbos?
SB: I have no problems with him, but obviously if he takes me out every race it is not good. I was angry about the way he behaved (in Mont-Tremblant) because he blocked. In Champ Car if you move from the racing line you block, and he did that quite a bit.
Things like that happened and it did not serve you well with people. You have to be honest with people and he is not well received because of that. I have always been honest and spoken my heart - and that is not going to change. It is the way I am. I cannot be two persons, I can only be one.
In the last race he locked wheels and totally lost control. But when I saw the replay I thought maybe it was done with less intent. But I am not going to open up the polemics. I guess it is under investigation anyway, so let's see what the results are going to be.
Q. And what about NASCAR?
SB: Maybe there are two things that can take me away from Champ Car - they are NASCAR and F1. Nothing else. I feel there is much to accomplish, with challenges, if you reach a certain level. I really wish there was a big united open-wheel series in the US, but there is not.
Q. Do you want to stay another year in Champ Car too?
SB: That is one of the options, not that I have received a proposal in NASCAR. Right now I have to see. You can only move from a current situation if you propose, and I have not proposed anything so there is a good chance that I stay in Champ Car if nothing happens.
Q. What about being a full-time Le Mans driver?
SB: That is the problem with endurance races, you cannot live from it. But I would not be making the kind of money I am making from the United States. I would only want to move for something that you work for - it is a passion before it is a job. I can be completely selfish and to hell with the money.
Q. Would you be prepared to use your money to build your career?
SB: If I was single it would be different, but I have to look after my family. The concerns are different once you become a husband and father. You cannot be as selfish as you used to be.
Q. So what is your preference?
SB: Winning the championship in F1 is the main thing, but obviously I am some time away from that. So everything about trying to make it work here is evolution. Clearly Toro Rosso are not title contenders right now, but who knows? Adrian (Newey) is doing a fine job, it looks pretty rosy in the future, so we have to wait and see what develops. Like I said before, it would be a pretty good opportunity.
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