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IZOD IndyCar Series: Grand Prix of Baltimore

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Baltimore

IZOD IndyCar Series: Grand Prix of Baltimore

Sebastien Bourdais
September 3, 2011


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us today.
We've also been joined by Sebastien Bourdais, who starts fifth tomorrow. This is his best qualifying result of the season. This is the team Dale Coyne Racing's first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six.
Give us your thoughts on qualifying today and how things are picking up for you guys.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, that's a helluva question.
Quite honestly, everybody could tell we had a bit of a rough start of the season, for the least. Things just started really, really late. Yeah, just being new to all this with a car that is extremely different to what I was used to, it was a big challenge. It's definitely all kind of coming together. It's not perfect yet, but you can definitely tell when the car was right, it was really good at that time. It's getting pretty close to being the fastest car out there.
We just don't have the consistency and all the knowledge to click it all the time session after session. Coming off three top-six finishes, getting obviously a good handle on the street course setup is a nice help. It really helped us to get some knowledge on the team about the car and everybody is working really well together. We have a pretty sweet little team really. I think it's just kind of late. Kind of wishing we'd be at race one right now.
No, I'm just really happy. Like I said at the beginning of the season, it doesn't matter where we start, it will be about where we sit towards the end of the season. It's kind of all coming together. So better late than never. For sure I'm definitely having a good time in the car. Hopefully we can turn form and get a top five, get on podium at some point. We still have two races to go and we'll give it our best shot.

Q. Can you contrast the frustration level you felt at the beginning of the season to the progress you've made?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I wouldn't call that frustration. It was despair (laughter). It was pretty rough. I knew it was going to be tough, but never I would have believed it was going to be that bad, for sure.

Q. Are you starting to feel like an IndyCar driver?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, absolutely. I think every time you get in the car and you feel you actually having an impact on what's going on and being competitive out there, that's all we want.
I mean, we know it's always going to be very difficult to step it up all the way to the Penskes and Ganassis. We still haven't put the car on the shaker. We still don't have a clue what we're doing. But we're doing it all right.

Q. What are your impressions of this course?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's a funny thing. It's super, super smooth for half of the lap, and then it's the roughest place ever on the other end. So it's definitely a very challenging mix where you either compromise and get low, have a really good car on the asphalt section, and an extremely tough car for the rest, or the other way around.
There are a lot of technical solutions you can go with.
As far as we're concerned, we obviously want to make the car work when we're soft. It doesn't really matter where we go, street, road, we just run really soft. It seems to be working for us. I think if Craig would have believed I would ever say I like soft form springs...
But, yeah, you know, I think the guys at the track did a really good job. It's always a huge undertaking to put such a big event together. It's a pretty long course. You have to face big challenges.
Personally, I was extremely worried about having them repave as much as they did with asphalt the night before. I don't know what they put down, but that thing is grippy and it's not going anywhere. I guess the Montréal people probably shoot get a handle on that stuff because, man, it was a big surprise. I would have never put a penny that that thing was going to stick, but it did.
Hats off. Tony Cotman and his team, all the Baltimore people did a really good job. It's really easy to make a mistake on the concrete part. But it's probably what's going to make it a very interesting race because until you cross that checkered flag, nothing's going to be written. Everybody can make a mistake at any time. If somebody puts pressure on someone, it's super easy to shoot long. You have a lot of downshift issues with all the bumps and stuff.
It's a lot of challenges. It's going to be a very long race tomorrow. I don't know what the weather is going to be like. But if on top of that you put the rain, that's going to be a whole lot of a different game.

Q. What would you expect your chances of being a full-time driver in this series with this team?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: With this team, I don't know. I think Dale is really trying to step it up. Since he got that win with Justin, he knows it doesn't take maybe as much as the Ganassi and the Penske have to be a contender. To be a championship winner, yeah, of course. But to be running up front, to feel good with yourself with a decent budget, but not the best out there, if you get the right people at the right place, it's possible.
I think Dale is really looking at trying to put something pretty good together as early as we can, which would obviously be the complete opposite of this year. And if you get things going pretty early, you can start thinking, Okay, we have a shot at this.
It's a new car next year. So, I mean, am I going to be part of the plan? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. It's very early to say. I obviously don't really know what Peugeot wants to do, as well. But to do IndyCar in good conditions and full-time is a big challenge. I've had the honor to experience that kind of feeling with good teams for the longest part. It was the best race season of my career. Hopefully there is still a few to come.

Q. If you had gotten one more lap, do you think you could have improved?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I've been bitched at too many times saying, If we would have done this, we would have done this or been in that, so I won't get there.
You never know what happens, that's for sure. We had a communication issue. I heard, Finish hard and pit. That was just after the timing line and just before pit. So I didn't want to cause a yellow or run out of fuel or anything like that, so I just came in. It was another lap, too bad.
I think we probably made a little mistake with the tire management we did. I wouldn't go into details, but I think we lost a lot more grip than we would, and I think we got a pretty good idea of what we did wrong. Because the car was really as close as it ever got to a P1 car in the Fast 12, then we lost a whole lot of momentum for that Fast Six. Maybe a bit of a lack of experience on our end, but I think we should have been a little better than that.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Interesting. It's always interesting, I guess. I'm not going to tell you I like it. It might be good for the fans who watch races just to see cars wreck. But being a racer, I think you always try and have the fairest result you can get, and that's not doing it this way. There are already a lot of things which impede the racing with all the yellows. How many times did we lose a race which seemed to be all done with and how many times did we win one that was not ours? It's just the way things are in the States. Sometimes it's good for you, sometimes it's not.
I think it's another thing on top of it that just makes it a little bigger gamble. No, I'm not a big fan of it. I haven't obviously spoken to Brian about it. But if we split after the chicane, which was a suggestion, might not have too many rows piled up, and that might be savior. If we all pair up and get to that first corner over there, it's just going to be mayhem and chaos, that's for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: In terms of driving, it's not that different because you have a bit less downforce - well, quite a bit less downforce - and less power. You can't brake as deep. You don't have to compromise so much about balance for the traction part to save your rear tires and all that.
But the technical solutions, it's like basically you take everything you learned in Champ Car and throw it away because nothing works.
It's a pretty big change. That's also been one of the reasons why we were so off at the beginning. Just kind of trying to apply too many things that we took for granted, which were completely out of the window really.
THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, thank you for joining us today. Best of luck tomorrow.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thank you.

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