Bourdais vs. Speed at Paul Ricard
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am no fan of Scott Speed. I think there are much more talented American open wheel drivers that, unfortunately, are not racing in F1, but then again they are not racing in Champ Car or the IRL.
Sebastien Bourdais is certainly a very talented driver that belongs in F1 however as to his ‘beating’ Scott Speed on ‘his first day back’ I don’t think the published times reflect that as EVERY driver, without exception, was faster on day two by an average of almost a FULL SECOND! In fact every team that had a different driver in for the second day that driver was an average of 1.2 SECONDS faster than the driver from the previous day whereas Kermit was only 4/10ths faster [Editor's Note: Yes, but was the team doing qualifying simulations like the other teams? No].
Even if the track was identical to the day before, tracks usually get faster as they are ‘rubbered in.’ There is no way for anyone outside a team to know what a team’s program for a test is or if the drivers were on similar setups, softer tires, lighter fuel loads, etc. Additionally, F1 testing is notorious for being used for internal agendas and if the team, for whatever reason, wanted one driver to appear to be substantially faster or slower it is easily accomplished.
What is indisputable from the times, and absolutely amazing, is that the Super-Aguri team is not only consistently punching well above its weight but that the ‘Junior’ Honda F1 team are only in their second year and operating on no more than 10 to 15 percent of the budget of the F1 Honda team. If they can finish 10th in the F1 Championship it will be worth more than $40,000,000.00 dollars to them which will only move them further up the grid.
By the way the individual in charge of the competition side of Super-Aguri is their Sporting Director, ex-Champ Car race engineer and Team Manager Graham Taylor. Taylor performed a similar feat in Champ Car for first year team American Spirit Team Johansson when that team was not only easily the best rookie team despite operating on a shoestring budget and running the inferior Reynard. Under Taylor’s management American Spirit equaled RuSPORT’s best results in RuSPORT’s first year and RuSPORT had the luxury of arguably the biggest budget in Champ Car while fielding a small army of engineers running new Lolas.
I will always remember Justin Wilson’s quote on signing with RuSPORT: “I have more engineers on my car now than I had crew members last year”. The on track competition side of RuSPORT was lead by their Technical Director, two time F1 World Champion engineer (he was both Senna’s and Prost’s race engineer the year they won the F1 World Championship) David Brown. David Brown is now the Technical Director for Krohn Racing in the GrandAm Series where he immediately moved that team to the front of the grid in GrandAm. So Champ Car does attract world class talent that has the ability to fight the experience and competence at Newman/Haas/Lanigan, it is just that the series is not healthy enough to hang on to and add to the existing talent pool which would make the racing A LOT closer, more competitive, and interesting which would attract more fans, sponsors, and top drivers. Jason Portaman, Indianapolis, Indiana