Sebastian Bourdais is a French driver who has stepped into the Formula One arena with plenty of motorsports experience. After a 5-year spell of racing in America, the 28-year old is making his F1 debut in the Scuderia Toro Rosso outfit for the 2008 season. He is one of the rare breed of drivers possessing outspoken characteristics.
A naturally quick driver, Bourdais has confessed to being a major risk-taker which pays off at most times. The Frenchman is a ‘thinking driver’ who plans strategies and tactics before every race. Many critics say that he has modeled himself on Formula1 legend Alain Prost, because of his traditional and clean style of driving.
Like every other teenager looking to make it big in the racing world, Sebastian too started his motorsports career at kart racing level at a very early age. After competing in every type of karting championships, the Frenchman turned his attention to Junior Formula levels. He successfully accomplished himself in the Formula Campus, the Formula Renault and the Formula3000 environment.
He hogged the limelight in the International Formula3000 Championship. After impressive initial years in the championship with the Junior Prost and DAMS team, he switched to the Super Nova Racing team in 2002. His move paid off as he clinched the title immediately after Tomas Enge was eliminated for testing positive for marijuana.
After his Formula 3000 Championship win, Bourdais was seen as a real F1 prospect. He tested for the Arrows F1 team in 2002 and was signed to drive for them but unfortunately for the Frenchman, the UK team ran into bankruptcy. He also tested for Renault but due to some undisclosed issues did not go on to sign the contract.
His failure to enter the Formula1 arena saw Sebastian Bourdais turn to the Champ Car World Series. He signed with the Newman-Hass racing team, in 2003, and quickly displayed some astounding performances by taking pole positions in his first two races and winning the fourth race. Sebastian finished in 4th place that season and was honoured with the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award. In the next season, he stepped on the throttle by clinching the championship with seven wins and ten podiums. The Frenchman dominated the Champ Car series arena for the next 3 years and became the first driver to win three consecutive titles since 1948.
Having emerged as one of the busiest drivers at top level of motor-racing, Bourdais has been a participant at the 24 Hours of Le Mans whenever his schedule permits. He has never won the title but his best finish came in 2007 when he clinched the second place. Bourdais also became the first open-wheel racer in a decade to win a race in the IROC series, usually dominated by NASCAR drivers.
His persistent hard work and impressive performances resulted in his return to F1 in 2007. He performed several tests for the Toro Rosso team and was eventually confirmed as their second driver for the 2008 season.
Here is what the French driver had to say on joining the Scuderia-powered Italian F1 team:“I am not pretending we are going to win races in 2008, though it would be awesome - but had I not tried F1, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. It certainly feels like it was time for me to go after a new challenge, given the right opportunity, and I think this is the case.”