Having won in almost every championship hes entered and the owner of one of motorsports most impressive CVs, Sébastien Bourdais, after contesting 27 grand prix, is ready to accept a new challenge; Superleague Formula by Sonangol, the only series to marry the passion of football with the excitement of motor racing. The Frenchman will begin his campaign as early as this coming weekend in Estoril (Portugal) racing for Spanish club FC Sevilla.
Bourdais career has been a highly successful one. He remains the youngest-ever French F3 champion before also claiming the prestigious International F3000 crown in 2002. However, it is in the States where he earned his most coveted achievements, winning four consecutive Champ Car series titles for Hollywood legend Paul Newman and team partner Carl Haas. Although a single seater specialist, Bourdais has also shined in European and American sportscar racing, where hes recorded several strong results.
Following a successful half-days testing at Magny-Cours last week with British outfit Ultimate, Bourdais, who was soon recording excellent lap times at the wheel of the 750bhp V12-powered Elan chassis, took the decision to contest the last three rounds of the 2009 Superleague Formula by Sonangol season. (5/6 September: Estoril; 3/4 October: Monza; 7/8 November: Jarama).
Superleague Formula by Sonangol is delighted to welcome a champion of Bourdais calibre which confirms the categorys position as a genuine alternative to Formula 1 for professional drivers. Indeed, the Frenchman will go up against fellow former F1 protagonists Giorgio Pantano (2008 GP2 Series Champion and ex-Jordan Grand Prix driver), Antonio Pizzonia and Enrique Bernoldi, not to mention the host of young talent eager to test itself against the best.
Alex Andreu (President of Superleague Formula):
Superleague Formula is very happy and very proud to welcome a driver with as many titles as Sébastien Bourdais. His decision was made after testing our car at the Magny-Cours circuit, who I would like to thank for believing in our project and participating in its development. Our objective is to attract the best professional drivers to our series. Giorgio Pantano, Antonio Pizzonia and today Sébastien Bourdais are amongst these. Were also hopeful that others will join us shortly. The more drivers we have of their calibre, the more Superleague Formula will carve its rightful place in the modern motorsport landscape, as well as offering a quality show to its fans.
Interview with FC Sevillas Sébastien Bourdais:
The best alternative to F1
What motivated you to come and race in Superleague Formula?
For a driver, Superleague Formula is the best alternative to F1. Today, its the only other championship in Europe to offer a driver the possibility of racing single seaters at a high, professional level. I am also a firm believer in the concept of merging motorsport and football. Its a partnership that offers enormous potential and should have a good future. Once the championship is established and more widely known, I am sure that Superleague Formula will be very strong.
What were your first impressions at the wheel of Superleague Formulas Elan chassis, V12-powered single seater?
The test at Magny-Cours made me realise just how fun the car is to drive. An F1 car is faster because its lighter. But the Elan V12 happens to be a very competitive car, benefiting from a lot of aerodynamic downforce and a very potent engine, drivable and powerful across the rev range, and offering a large scope of usage. Its a consistent single seater thats a pleasure to drive.
Whats the target for your debut in Estoril?
My desire is evidently to be competitive straight away at Estoril. Now, I only did a few laps in the car and the team is quite new to the championship. To win as soon as my first race will not be easy for sure. I also want to have fun, which hasnt often been the case for me during this last year.
How do you approach the race and qualifying formats which are specific to Superleague Formula?
I will discover a qualifying system which is different to what Ive been used to as it requires a very tactical approach. As far as the three races go, the totally reversed grid for the second reminds me of Formula Campus. This creates a lot of overtaking opportunities which improves the overall show on track, especially if the objective is to secure a place in the Super Final. To some degree though, Superleague Formula reminds me of racing in Champ Car.
Are you a football fan?
Without being an aficionado of football, I do often attend Le Mans fixtures my home-town as well as supporting the French national side during the important international tournaments.
Sébastien Bourdais Profile
Born in Le Mans, 27 February 1979
Married to Claire, one daughter (Emma)
1997: French Formula Renault runner-up
1999: French F3 Champion
2002: F3000 International champion. F1 tests with Arrows and Renault. DTM tests with Opel. 1st at the Spa 24 Hours.
2003: Best rookie in Champ Car
2004/2005/2006/2007: 4 Champ Car titles. 1 win in IROC (2005). 1st in GT2 at the 12 Hours of Sebring (2006).
2008: F1 Toro Rosso (4 points) 2009: F1 Toro Rosso (2 points). 2nd at the Le Mans 24 Hours and 12 Hours of Sebring.