Exclusive Q&A - Toro Rossos Sebastien Bourdais 25 Apr 2008
Going from being a four-time Champ Car champion to starting all over again in a new series, with a relatively small team, is not the easiest transition to make. But thats just what Toro Rossos Sebastien Bourdais has done this season.
Rather than reflecting on his change of status, Bourdais has focused all his energy on learning the ropes, even when his Formula One education landed him - and the Italian team's new car - in the crash barriers at last weeks Barcelona test
Q: Sebastien, after three races, how are you enjoying your Formula One experience so far?
Sebastien Bourdais: It is in line with what I was expecting. No big surprises, given that I did not know what to hope for. I think I have made some quite good progress in qualifying and with better usage of the tyres. But it is a never-ending process. Everybody tries to do his best so lets see what happens.
Q: After the Melbourne race, you had to sit down while speaking with the media - is a Formula One race so much more demanding than Champ Car?
SB: No, but it was 41 degrees and I had lost a lot of water. Everybody reacts differently to heat and it seems that since I moved from Florida and settled in Switzerland I tend to endure the heat a bit differently. It used to affect me quite a bit. Then when I moved to the States and after two years in Florida it was no problem anymore. But now we have moved back to Europe, heat feels surprisingly uncomfortable again. And the Melbourne race was my hottest race ever. But that had nothing to do with me sitting down - I knew after I had scored two points that the media session would not be just a five-minutes affair, so I wanted to make myself comfortable.
Q: Were those two points in Australia unexpected?
SB: On that given day in Melbourne it was obviously very important not to make any mistakes. And I did not make any mistakes - but that is what they (the team) are expecting from you. I was just really happy that for the first race it was quite good. It was quite satisfying. We knew that the first race would be eventful, but of course we had no idea that it would be that eventful. When you have crazy races like that, its when you need to be strong and make no mistakes. For us it is seizing chances at every race and Melbourne was a good chance for me.
Q: If Melbourne was the highlight, then the testing accident in the team's new car at Barcelona last week must have been the low point. Were you simply going too fast or was it a fault on the STR3?
SB: It was just one of those bad days when race drivers make a mistake. It was not that I was going too fast, it was just that I made a stupid mistake. And when I realized it, it was already too late. But in the end I felt quite lucky about it as I did not hurt myself. At first, when I saw the barrier approaching rapidly, I thought to myself, this is not looking so good! Looking back at it now it is a shame, as it meant a lot of extra work for the team. I was really sorry.
Q: Were you criticised after the crash? Your team mate Sebastian Vettel was robbed of his chance to run in the new car. And the team had to leave Barcelona almost empty-handed in terms of data
SB: The team reacted very nicely. I was quite surprised about that. I knew exactly what not to do, but I made that mistake and that resulted in me wrecking the car pretty badly. It was a real shame, but then thats racing.
Q: From your brief ride, what is your perception of the STR3?
SB: Before I crashed it I had a very good feeling about it. It was very encouraging. But you need to temper the observations a bit because the track was in exceptional shape, as a lot of teams were running on slicks. I went through some corners like I had never done during the winter, so I am sure that we will make a nice step forward when we use it.
Q: Will that be in Turkey? Or was the damage so serious that the team has had to postpone it?
SB: I am not the person to ask this. But they are pushing forward very hard - of course I didnt help that with my Barcelona crash.
Q: You signed with a team that was supposed to have a sound future but now, with half the team up for sale, things seem less secure. How do you see your situation?
SB: It is a fact that the teams future is a little bit up in the air, but from what I know, until the end of 2009 its not going to change, so that is very reassuring. But in the end, the strategic planning for the future is not really my department.