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A race weekend with… Sebastien Bourdais 24 Jun 2008

Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, Thursday, 19 June 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, Friday, 20 June 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 21 June 2008 (L to R): Valerie Begue (FRA) Miss France with Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 21 June 2008

Finishing a lap down in 17th place may not be the dream ending to your first home Grand Prix, but having enjoyed so many successes at Magny-Cours in the past, Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais retains his affection for the French circuit.

It was there that we caught up with the Le Mans-born driver to discover his likes and dislikes about the typical race weekend - and to find out how the Champ Car legend is adapting to the routine of life, Formula One style…

Q: We were in Magny-Cours this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?
Sebastien Bourdais:
I have a lot of memories, obviously, because I raced here for the first time in 1995 when I was starting karts. When I count it comes to about 20 races that I did here - and it was here that I had my first major success, winning my first championship in Formula Three. It’s somewhat of a proud feeling to finally come back driving a Formula One car at my home Grand Prix, even if my race was far from being memorable. But honestly, for me it meant more to get to Monaco. There I really had the feeling that I had arrived in Formula One - it was like, ‘Gee, here I am in Monaco…’

Q: You don’t take to the track until Friday morning at races, but when do you like to fly in?
SB:
If it’s not too far - and basically this goes for the European races - I like to fly in on Thursday morning. If that’s not possible, I usually arrive Wednesday evening.

Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
SB:
That greatly depends on the place. At the places we had never been before I took my wife and we flew in a day earlier, like in Istanbul where we visited some of the attractions. So when the schedule allows it, yes, I do play the tourist.

Q: What’s your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
SB:
Well, we do not really have time for intense work-outs over a race weekend. When the schedule permits I do two short runs - half an hour or so - and a bit stretching, but not the big programme. That is done in the time between the races and naturally in the off-season in winter.

Q: What’s your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
SB:
I don’t have the luxury of a motorhome anymore which I used to in the States. That was truly convenient. As far as a hotel goes, the closer the better!

Q: Anything you have to have provided in your hotel room, or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
SB:
I’ve got my laptop on which I work and my iPod for my kind of music, and some other small electronic gadgets. But no pillows or anything like that.

Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
SB:
I don’t really have time for that. When I am at the track it is work. I usually arrive very early and leave quite late. Very rarely do you see me leaving the track before 9pm.

Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialize on Friday and Saturday night?
SB:
On Thursday a bit, when the media schedule allows it, but never Friday or Saturday!

Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
SB:
I have a very good relationship with my team mate (Sebastian Vettel). We have been travelling quite a bit together. I am sure I could have quite good relationships with others but the schedule doesn’t allow much of anything. We see each other at the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) meetings, the drivers’ briefing and the drivers’ parade. Unfortunately I am no poker player, so I am not part of that ‘gang’ - but that probably it saves me a lot of money!

Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?
SB:
Wait till the end of the year then I can tell you. I don’t know all the races yet and so I would be making a premature judgment. The intermediate result would be Melbourne - but then I scored my first points there, so it was clear that a bit partying was on.

Q: What’s the best night out you’ve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
SB:
For sure, Sunday night in Australia after I laid hands on those two points. But so far throughout my professional career in racing I have never overslept.

Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
SB:
I eat what I feel like - I don’t have a ‘fixed menu’. It really depends on the country I am in. Many times I just go for the basics. The truth is I am not very picky with food.

Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
SB:
I would struggle to give you a figure, but for the most part it is water and energy drinks.

Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
SB:
Mostly when we get up we do a 30-minute run, then have breakfast and go to the track. There PR work is waiting, then the drivers’ parade and then I need some time for myself to get into the ‘racing mode’.

Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
SB:
Well, it’s not McLaren here, so yes, I always drive myself to the track - in a rental car!

Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
SB:
After I have ticked off the ‘necessities’ - namely PR work and drivers’ parade - I speak with my engineers, then I get ready, and then I go racing. No superstitions any more. I used to be very superstitious with underwear and all those things, but then you discover that you win with everything and lose with everything. It just makes you dependent on things and their availability. So I skipped that nonsense habit.

Q: What do you do to stay calm as you’re sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
SB:
I just try to do everything to be ready.

Q: How do you wind down after the race?
SB:
Depends. If it’s been a good day you debrief and you talk a lot about positive things. When it was a lousy day you just try to get away from the race track and don’t think about it any more.

Q: If things don’t go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
SB:
I stay, I watch the race and I am available for the team.