Bourdais, Vettel, to Toro Rosso in ’08 UPDATE #9 This rumor should have been upgraded to 'fact' last Friday.
08/01/07 (GMM) Toro Rosso's 2008 'option' on the services of Sebastien Bourdais ran out on Tuesday.
No news about the multiple Champ Car title winner's possible future in formula one was forthcoming, but 28-year-old Bourdais admitted to the media that rumors of a link with a possible switch to NASCAR did have some substance.
"As of right now, I'm trying to pursue everything I can in the F1 world, and we should have some news pretty soon," the Frenchman told the Tampa Tribune.
He added: "If it doesn't come through, then yeah, NASCAR is definitely something I would be interested in."
Bourdais had been strongly linked with American STR driver Scott Speed's seat for 2008, but that will almost certainly now be filled next year by Sebastian Vettel.
His hopes now rest on Vitantonio Liuzzi also being dropped by the Faenza based team.
Bourdais said the fact that Toro Rosso had yet to take up its option on him just hours before it expired was not necessarily a bad sign.
"They announced Vettel today, I think that was probably enough to occupy them quite a bit, so all it says right now for us is that it doesn't mean it's not going to happen," Bourdais said.
"It means we don't only have a door open at Toro Rosso; now we can try to see if there are other opportunities."
Asked if he already had other F1 opportunities on the table, he answered: "No, not really. But at least now we can talk."07/31/07 Vettel was confirmed today but July 31st (the last day Toro Rosso had an option on Bourdais) and still no word on Sebastien Bourdais. We suspect NHLR has gotten involved with the negotiations since they still have a contract with Bourdais and that may be slowing down any official announcement. Our sources maintain he is definitely going to Toro Rosso.
[Editor's Note: If STR offer Bourdais a similar meager $165K as they did to Vettel to drive for them he will definitely take a ride in NASCAR as there is no way he will drive for them for that kind of money. Bourdais can drive for the Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan team in NASCAR and make millions.]
07/20/07 Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has confirmed that the Formula One team has an option to sign three-time ChampCar series winner, Sebastien Bourdais.
Bourdais, from Le Mans in France, has tested with Torro Rosso on a couple of occasions, performing impressively enough for the team to draw up an optional contract for him to drive for it.
Berger said at the European Grand Prix overnight that Toro Rosso has until the end of this month to decide whether to complete the deal.
"I have to say he delivered what we were expecting from him," he said.
"He has been quick, consistent and good with the engineers. So I think he has a good potential. We have an option on him until the end of the month."
There are no French drivers in F1 and, with the future of the French Grand Prix in serious jeopardy, Bourdais could be the man to help revive one of the sport's traditional strongholds.
American Scott Speed and Italy's Vitantonio Liuzzi drive for Toro Rosso, but neither has come close to scoring a championship point this season and Berger confirmed the team is assessing its options for next year.
"There are a couple of names that we know are able to do a good job," he said.
"One of them is Sebastien Bourdais and another one is Sebastian Vettel." FOX Sports07/19/07 Three-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais has confirmed that Formula 1 is definitely a 'possibility' for him next season following his latest test with Scuderia Toro Rosso last week at Spa.
"It is a possibility," he told Bridgestone's latest Racing all over the World Formula 1 podcast, when asked if he expects to be in a Formula 1 car in 2008. "Obviously you hope that it is going to finally happen but it is all about timing and opportunities and if it is meant to be it will happen.
"If it isn't, we will keep on going in Champ Car probably or try and find something else. But in the end it has been a great opportunity [to test a Formula 1 car again] and I am very thankful to Toro Rosso. It was great [to do this test] and now we will have to wait and see if there is going to be a succession to the story, I guess."
Pressed on what it is that attracts him to Formula 1, he said that Formula 1 is simply the pinnacle and that he needs a new challenge after having done so well in the USA.
"Obviously Formula 1 is the fastest car on the planet - and this is where you want to be when you want to be a top driver," he explained. "Having won in Champ Cars for three straight years in a row it feels a little bit like: 'What's next?' So we will have to see what the future holds exactly for Sebastien Bourdais."07/17/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. Sebastien Bourdais has moved a crucial step closer to making his formula one debut for Toro Rosso in 2008.
The Faenza based team earlier took out a contract 'option' on Bourdais, a multiple Champ Car title winner, and it runs out at the end of July, according to the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport.
And with his successful recent tests for the jointly Dietrich Mateschitz owned outfit, the Frenchman has now also earned the crucial vocal backing of Gerhard Berger, the other 50 per cent shareholder.
"He has my support," Berger, a former grand prix winner for McLaren and Ferrari, is quoted as saying.
He said of the 28-year-old: "Bourdais has done everything right, which is exactly what we expected of him. He has exactly the right attitude for the job."
Berger's comments are bad news for Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi, whose current seats are also under threat by BMW test driver Sebastien Vettel.
Bourdais, meanwhile, is also supported by STR team principal Franz Tost, who said of the Frenchman's first test: "On his first attempt, he was as fast as our current drivers, and he made not a single mistake."
Tost then said in a team-supplied interview this week that both Speed and Liuzzi "need to improve".
Gerhard Berger is edging ever-nearer to rubber-stamping his preferred driver lineup for 2008.
After saying multiple Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais "has my support" in his bid to land a Toro Rosso seat, former ten time GP winner Berger also enthused about another driver.
BMW test driver Sebastian Vettel, 20, has also been linked with an STR contract in 2008, and 50 per cent team owner Berger told Auto Motor und Sport: "The boy impresses me.
"He has brains and the right attitude for the job -- and that is already half of everything you need."
Austrian Berger does, however, reserve some caution about German Vettel's outright pace, after he finished behind a Renault, Toyota and Red Bull whilst substituting on debut for the injured Robert Kubica in the US grand prix this year.
Behind Ferrari and McLaren, BMW-Sauber's car is undoubtedly the third quickest this year.
Berger said: "We would only find out really how quick he is after a few races, because it is hard to judge after just one."07/06/07 (MM) Toro Rosso's co-owner has shed some light on rumors surrounding the appearance of the team's driver lineup for 2008.
Dietrich Mateschitz, who also owns Red Bull Racing, admitted interest in running BMW's test driver Sebastian Vettel next year but steered away from speculation that Ralf Schumacher could rescue his career at STR.
The Austrian billionaire told Salzburger Nachrichten: "If Vettel becomes contractually free then we would be happy if he wants to return to the Red Bull family."
Crucially, however, it is understood that BMW team boss Mario Theissen is only looking to 'loan' the 20-year-old German to Toro Rosso for up to two years.
Mateschitz refused to shed much light on the Toro Rosso tests of multiple Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, but drew a firm line beneath gossip that Ralf Schumacher might find his way into a Faenza-built car in 2008.
He said: "Ralf is a good driver who at present is in a difficult situation. But this doesn't have much do with us.
"He has not had even one discussion with us."07/03/07 (GMM) With Nick Heidfeld's new BMW-Sauber deal looking secure, it is now increasingly likely that the German team's current test and reserve driver Sebastian Vettel will be 'loaned' to Toro Rosso for a couple of years.
In the German press on Tuesday, neither STR co-owner Gerhard Berger nor BMW's Mario Theissen vehemently ruled out the scenario unfolding in time for 2008.
"I know that Sebastian is looking for a place to race and that we could be an interesting place for him to come," Berger is quoted as saying by Sport-Informations-Dienst.
Vettel, 19, is uniquely contracted both to BMW and Red Bull -- with both companies claiming precedence over the other.
Berger insisted: "But so far we have held no concrete conversations with him."
Theissen, meanwhile, told Blickpunkt Sport late on Monday that 'loaning' Vettel to another team for a year or two is a "conceivable scenario".
But, along the same lines as Berger, he added: "The future is not decided yet."07/02/07 Sebastien Bourdais is slated for another round of testing with the Toro Rosso F1 team at Spa in mid July following the Toronto round of the Champ Car World Series. At Mont-Tremblant, he denied published reports that he has already inked a contract with the Toro Rosso squad for 2008. SPEEDtv.com
06/28/07 (GMM) Team co-owner Gerhard Berger on Thursday gave a big hint about the possible appearance of Toro Rosso's driver lineup for 2008.
The Austrian stalwart and former grand prix winner has often been critical of STR's current racers Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi, but insists to sportnet.at that rumors of an early exit for the pair is not on the cards.
Berger did, however, admit that signing at least one experienced driver in the longer term would be "an advantage" for any team in its early stages.
"Sometimes we suffer because we have two young, inexperienced drivers," he said.
Berger hinted: "But a rookie does not necessarily have to be so young and inexperienced."
Champ Car's dominant Sebastien Bourdais (right), for instance, is strongly rumored to be heading for a Toro Rosso cockpit next year, and Berger admits long-standing links with the 28-year-old Frenchman's manager Nicolas Todt.
"I have known Nicolas since he was a child when I drove under his father Jean (Todt) at Ferrari. That is apart from the fact that I think Nicolas does a very good job in this industry," he said.
BMW's Sebastian Vettel - jointly contracted to STR's sister team Red Bull - is also speculatively linked with a race seat for 2008, but the German teenager laughed off the rumor at Magny Cours.
"I know nothing about it and nobody has spoken to me about it," Vettel is quoted as saying by Sport-Informations-Dienst.