Champ Car Media Conference
Topics: Champ Car World Series
October 25, 2005
ERIC MAUK: Thank you for joining us on a very special media teleconference today as we're joined by the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Champion, the driver of the No. 1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Thank you for joining us today
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thanks Eric
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien clinched the 2005 Championship just this past weekend at the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfer's Paradise Australia clinching it again with a Victory just as did he last year in Mexico City, he led 38 of the 57 laps to take his 6th victory of the year. Sebastien leads the series in victories with six and in poles with five. He's second in laps led and he also, perhaps even more importantly, has completed all but one lap this year. He's run 1239 of the 1240 laps keeping him on track is definitely part of the chance to stay in the Top-5 and the Top-10 and run for those victories and Sebastien has put nine Top-5 finishes together; has that streak alive as we heads into Mexico City. And a 10th consecutive Top-5 finish would make him one of just eight drivers in the history of Champ Car racing to string together 110 consecutive Top-5 finishes Sebastien, long flights back yesterday, but you made it back home to Tampa, and now that you have had a couple of days to reflect on it, tell us a little bit about what it means to clinch Championship
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, definitely it was a long flight but not longer than yours, I guess. It's just a great feeling. Again, as you said, I clinched the Championship and to top it off with a win is always good to wrap it up with a style and was very exciting race with a lot of engagement from everybody on the track. Pretty frantic pace up front, the qualifying lap three or four times in a row was pretty amazing and just a great run from the McDonald's car again
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien set the fastest lap of the Lexmark Indy 300, set it just as he briefly alluded to there, four times during the middle session of the event. Eventually setting the fastest lap and breaking the race lap record for that event, a record that had stood for seven years had been put up by Alex Zanardi back in '98. Tell us a little bit about the start of that race, just a little frantic there as those who have seen the race can attest to. Take us through it from your standpoint.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was a slow start and I guess we had instructions not to kick things too early. We all kind of respected that; maybe a little too much and really backed everybody and I was extremely worried for the first braking and apparently justly so because when I looked just before hitting the brakes I was a little in front of Oriol and just braked extremely late because I could see the bad thing coming. And I was just lucky not to be in the middle of it. But the bad point was that Oriol was fighting for the Championship for the second place, got hit by behind and definitely didn't put the Newman/Haas 1, 2 in a very good situation. So from there on when Tracy (inaudible) inside the first start of the chicane, he was in the lead and I really had to push very hard to kind of get to it and pass him in the pit cycle.
ERIC MAUK: Looking at the points standings right now, Oriol Servia leads third place Justin Wilson by 34 points; meaning that basically all Oriol has to do is start the season finale down in Mexico City in two weeks time to clinch the second place spot and Newman/Haas Racing will again finish 1, 2 in the Championship for the consecutive second year. We have talked about this a number of times. Just tell the people listening in a little bit about what makes Newman/Haas Racing so consistent and so good.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess there's a lot of hard work behind it. Oriol had this difficult test this year jumping from the Coyne car to the Newman/Haas car and taking over a brilliant driver, Bruno, my teammate, who got hurt in Indy. And he definitely stood up for the challenge very good and just had a very good season and enjoyed every bit of it. I think out of the four, last four seasons, Newman/Haas won three championships and it just shows really well how strong this organization is and how good it feels to be involved within it.
ERIC MAUK: Looking at the Mexico City event here in two weeks. We go to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the Tecate Telmex Gran Premio de Mexico City. That will be in two weeks. We run there on Sunday November 6th. Take us around that track. It is a pretty tricky race course. You handled it very well for the most part last year. We won't talk about the mid-race spin, but as we alluded to before, you clinched the Championship with a victory there, you dominated, led from flag to flag. Tell us a little bit about that racetrack
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's obviously, these days, the best road course we have on the schedule, long, it's got just about any corners, slow, medium, nice speed and as long as it is go faster and faster, it's really enjoyable to drive over there and just the whole venue is just a great success, huge crowd, big enthusiasm from the fans and just all the recipe for a great event really.
ERIC MAUK: You are heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend to run in the final round of the IROC Championship for the International Race of Champions. Tell us a little bit about what you have learned, what you have gotten out of running in the IROC Series this year
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was obviously a great experience for me. First time in the stock car and just had a great time with one win; especially a great moment in my career of the win in Texas. So just a long quite a few things on ovals and was a great ambience, thanks to Crown Royal and the Signore family. I just had a blast and hopefully we could do it again next year. We'll see and we will see if the schedule allows us to do that.
ERIC MAUK: Were you surprised at the attitude of the drivers in that series? I know just a couple days ago IROC held a teleconference in which Mark Martin was a part of and Mark obviously is one of great veterans of the sport, not just in stock car racing, and he was especially complimentary to you and talked about what a thrill it was for him to race against you and to meet you and how, through IROC, was about the only way he was ever going to get a chance to do that. He was happy that he did. Are you surprised at the relationships you have been able to foster with some of these guys?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, a little. First, because obviously, I am from France and I have quite a different background and completely different culture so I really didn't know what to expect. I have to say they have been great guys, just huge respect between all the racers, you know, each way, and I was extremely pleased with the way that things went with Mark. He's been extremely good to me, very complimentary and obviously a great opponent to fight against. I found it a little tough, to be very honest, but just the experience really was an enjoyable one and had a lot of fun altogether
ERIC MAUK: IROC Series, the Race of Champions that you run over in Paris, Baja, and very busy off-season last year. Tell us a little about what your plans are for this coming off-season.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, Race of Champions is again on the list. Just received the invitation and I will be back in Paris the 3rd of December. Baja is on the list if we can make it stick with all the after-season, I guess, obligations we'll have, and just again, when you win a series, you have to be up for the chance. There's a lot of things to do and it's not as demanding as the season itself, but not very far from it.
ERIC MAUK: All right. Congratulations again. Sebastien, we'll go ahead and open it up to questions from the media.
Q. I am wondering if you can just talk about the challenge of starting the year with Bruno as your teammate and then going through what he went through and adapting to Oriol and the fact that the team continues performing very strongly.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess I can't comment on what Bruno went through. It's a very tough thing he was up against, obviously, and probably the toughest thing a race car driver can be up against. Actually you get back in shape and after a huge accident like the one he suffered in Indy, but definitely shook things up for Newman/Haas. We had to find someone to replace Bruno until the end of the season. Obviously when Oriol presented himself as a possible replacement, it was great news because he's the friend of both of us and we just got along very well. I think achieved a very good job for the team. Obviously it's not completely official yet, but clinch another one in two for Newman/Haas. And overall, even with Bruno's accident, it stayed just a great season.
Q. Follow-up, what type of goals will you set for yourself next year and how will you keep yourself motivated after two straight championships?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, there's always more to come, I hope to believe. So we won two straight and it's never really been done before. I think only once 45, 46 and 47, something like that, to have a triple consecutive winner in the championship, so I guess it would be pretty cool to put my name on this very, very short list of drivers who win three in a row. But, no, every time you win, you know, the season ends and you just have another one in front of you. As long as you are motivated to try andÃ¢ï¿½Â -- because you just want to win races and Championships, I will be back. We signed a deal for 2006 with Newman/Haas Racing and so far I think there's been a great relationship with the team. I have enjoyed every bit of it and so far really looking forward to another one. I know it's going to be extremely tough and we will just start to work on it as soon as this 2005 season ends.
ERIC MAUK: What Sebastien said about the three consecutive championships, Ted Horne is the only driver to ever win three consecutive Champ Car titles and Sebastien, you'd be interested to know, ran into TZ yesterday on the way to the airport and on the way through immigration and let him know that and told him it was eight years since last time it happened. He thought about it for about 30 second and decided that was a pretty cool deal and something he was real interested in shooting for next year. So goal No. 1 apparently is going to be put on the Newman/Haas board here shortly.
Q. Sebastien, congratulations on your title. I guess my question is now that you revealed you have a deal with Newman/Haas for '06, is about Formula 1, it just seems it would make too much sense for Renault to give you an opportunity to test since there are no French drivers in Formula I. I guess my question is: How does your history with Flavia Briatore influence this? Is his presence there a difficulty for that to happen?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess that's the trickiest question so far. There's not much I can comment about it. If you want some comments about what he -- why he doesn't consider me, I guess you need to ask him. But realistically, all I can say he's done a great job. He has got a great organization, a great driver, world Champion team and driver, and there's nothing you can really bitch at, really. It's just the way it is. They picked another driver and they have been successful. So you can't argue with that choice. Obviously, Renault is a French company, but it's also a multi-national company. It's got markets all over the world and they probably have interest to have non-French drivers. So far I think they showed that they were right. Would I have been to be able achieve that? I have no idea, I have never been handed the chance. All I can ask for right now is to try and start the relationship in 2006 with the team, try to (inaudible) a few times which is going to be a lot in my contract, and to start in 2007. So far nothing really happened and all I can say is I am pretty successful and happy in Champ Cars, and there's not much I can do about not being handed an opportunity in F-1. So we'll see what the future comes up with.
Q. Here's a big question. Did your house survive the hurricane?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yes, it did.
Q. Are you at home now?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, we're home.
Q. Was it pretty bad?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Not in this area, definitely, no sign of hurricane. When we flew back yesterday it was blue sky and the wind definitely was strong, but nowhere near hurricane fall season. Just keep our fingers crossed and hope it's going to stay that way. But you can't be sure of that.
Q. How do you stop from getting stale when you have won so much and you are coming back for a third year with Newman/Haas; how do you keep the personal thing going? I know it's already kind of been asked, but deep down inside, don't you want to try something new?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, that's obviously something you care about as a driver. Since the beginning every time you win, you kind of go a step higher. The truth is, apart of Formula 1, there's not many things over Champ Cars. I am a professional and all I can do is try and make the history book, I guess, winning races and Championships and things like that. But it's justÃ¢ï¿½Â -- I am just having a lot of fun doing it. So there's no real sense in debating all these things. So far I have just enjoyed a lot what I did and as long as I will be racing in Champ Cars, I go to try and win races and as a consequence as you know when you win races most of the time, you are a contender for the Championship. So we have a very competitive ride right now and just a great organization, a great atmosphere within the team; everybody is trying to win a third one and we'll definitely try to achieve that
Q. The fact that Champ Car is going to a new chassis package, how do you think that will influence your long-term career planning?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's obviously really tough to anticipate that. I was definitely extremely pleased if that happened in 2006 because it is a great challenge. You start from scratch with a new car that you have to develop with the team, and that's very much something I enjoy doing. I have done it a few times in Formula 3 and Formula 2000, both cars, and I have always really enjoyed that part. I really like the development part with the engineers and the relationship and it feels very much like a baby that you kind of look at growing and watch growing and that's something very special. So there are two feelings really about it. In 2007 obviously it will probably be my last chance to make it to F-1 and I'd very much like to make the jump, but in the meantime, if I don't, that's going to be a great challenge ahead of me and a lot of teams to try and develop this car and win something different and the beginning of probably a new era. Both scenarios are going to be a great challenge for me in 2007.
Q. I guess I have another tricky one. How would you compare Bruno and Oriol as drivers?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's not that tricky. They have different personalities. Oriol is just taking it really easy but being very professional and Bruno is just very professional in what he's doing and 100% focused. Sometimes I guess people take it the wrong way, but I guess it was actually -- quite a shame because in 2005 we spent quite a bit of time with the Indy 500 and all that together and definitely our relationship stepped to another level and we're just having a lot of good times together and it was just a big setback obviously when he kind of was taken away from us. Just they are both good friends and very good drivers. They have achieved a lot of things with Newmann/Haas Racing and I guess the thing that would make a lot of sense would be to try and keep them in the organization so I know I am pretty sure Bruno will be back because obviously he got hurt in Newman/Haas car and it makes all the sense in the world to have him back to show how good he is and to do kind of, you know, go over and try to win the Championship in 2006 and Oriol has done a fantastic job to take over what was in front of him. I guess, again, it also makes a lot of sense for him to stay with us. So obviously the target was to try and put a third car and I know that Jimmy is working really, really hard. It's a financial problem now, and obviously it would be awesome to have a title sponsor for a third car and to make it happen. So we won't have to debate who to keep and who to work with. That would be just the best thing that can happen to Newmann/Haas Racing.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our Champ Car teleconference today. I'd like to thank Sebastien Bourdais for joining us. Best of luck this weekend in the IROC race.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thanks a lot, Eric.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you to everyone from the media.
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