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DATE News (chronologically)
02/23/09
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Bourdais to return to USA? UPDATE #17 Bourdais admits F1 nearly lost him to USA. Sebastien Bourdais has revealed that in re-signing him for a second campaign in Formula 1 in 2009, Scuderia Toro Rosso acted only just in time to prevent him from returning across the Pond to compete in America once more.

"I was definitely relieved," he confessed, speaking exclusively to Crash.net. "I mean, it's a nasty situation. You wait and wait and wait. I was obviously trying to investigate other options, because over being a F1 driver, I'm a professional driver.

"That's what I make a living from, so I needed to make sure that this was still going to be true for '09 and that was not easy. It's been a very long and difficult winter, no need to deny that. It's never easy when you are left uncertain for so long.

"At some point I was not hoping so much anymore; I was just trying hard to get a seat in particular in the States. In the end Toro Rosso came back to us before anything in the States was completed, so here I am!"

01/12/09 According to Robin Miller's latest SPEEDTV.com article, Ralph Hansen, the sponsor guru for NHLR the past three decades, admitted there had been conversations with Sebastien Bourdais and there was also interest in Robert Doornbos.  "Everyone at Newman/Haas/Lanigan would be thrilled to have Sebastien come back and he wants to come back," said Hansen, who owns Pegasus Marketing in Chicago.  "We're working very hard to make it a possibility."

12/18/08 Sebastien Bourdais told Autosport magazine this week that he is considering a return to racing in North America if he is left without a drive in Formula One next season.

"I'm pretty open," he told Autosport. "Right now I need a good program and America would be an interesting option.

"I have been looking at alternatives (to F1) because that's my job. I need to find a way to make a living, but that's not easy right now - everybody is not willing to commit to any programs."

12/07/08 Jenson Button is the latest driver that could displace Sebastien Bourdais from the Toro Rosso team.

Jenson Button could cost Bourdais his ride
A source at the Ferrari-powered team said: “Jenson would not need to do an audition.”

A pal of Button admitted: “Jenson is still shell-shocked. He really thought he could be fighting for wins in the next few years as the new car had a lot of promise.

“That’s why he was happy to commit to Honda even though there was interest from other teams.

“But now that could cost him the chance of a drive in 2009 which would be devastating.”

Following the Honda news, it emerged that the 28-year-old Briton recently penned a new Honda deal, that will according to the marque's president Takeo Fukui now be "undone" at Button's request.

"If Jenson gets an opportunity we will sit down and see what the situation here is and what opportunity he has got," Honda team boss Ross Brawn is quoted as saying by The News of the World.

Honda is seeking a buyer for the Brackley based team prior to the 2009 season.

Brawn added: "If we can keep him here we will be delighted but we also understand that it is very difficult for an F1 driver to miss a season -- unlike engineers."

Although embroiled in contractual wrangling in the past, Button has remained loyal to Honda for several years now, but said his overriding goal is to race.

"I want to race in F1," he told the Daily Express.  "I am happy to listen to anybody who will give me the opportunity to do so ... whatever the cost."

It is suggested that Button's best options for 2009 are remaining at a re-badged Honda team, or switching to Red Bull's second F1 outfit, Toro Rosso.

A STR source told the News of the World that Button "would not need to do an audition" should he be interested in a switch, but the official message from the team is different.

According to a Red Bull statement carried by the news agency AFP, Honda's withdrawal "will have no impact on the choice of Toro Rosso's pilots".

11/23/08 Record-breaking Champ Car king Sébastien Bourdais has admitted that he is not overly confident about his chances of remaining in F1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2009 - as he faces opposition on four fronts.

Sébastien Bourdais has revealed that there are five drivers, not just three, under consideration for the two available Formula 1 seats at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year - as his manager admits that the Frenchman is undergoing 'a rather unpleasant period'.

Bourdais, namesake and GP2 Series race-winner Sébastien Buemi and out-of-work Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato all tried out for STR during the first major group test of the winter around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya this week. Though the former wound up the quickest of the three despite having completed by some margin the fewest laps, he stressed that his performance is no guarantee of a stay of execution at the Red Bull 'junior' concern in 2009.

"Obviously you have to show that you are the one who deserves to be there and obviously I need to show again that I am quick enough and deserve to be there," the 29-year-old - voted seventh in Crash.net readers' list of top ten drivers of the season told the official Formula 1 website, "but that's not going to be enough.

"As long as they don't have the money to run the team in a proper way they won't be able to say [who they want], because it doesn't matter whether you have talented drivers at the wheel of the car if you can't run the car.

"There were three drivers in Barcelona, but Rubens [Barrichello] is on the list and Bruno [Senna] as well - if he doesn't get picked up by Honda - so anybody who has got talent and money today is a potential candidate." Yahoo! Sports

Bourdais (L) with team co-boss Gerhard Berger
11/20/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais' manager has admitted he fears for the French driver's future on the formula one grid.

Nicolas Todt, who also handles Ferrari's Felipe Massa, acknowledged that despite a stronger finish to Bourdais' maiden 2008 campaign, the 29-year-old has not yet penned a contract to remain at Toro Rosso in 2009.

"It is a rather unpleasant period," said Todt, the son of the former Ferrari boss Jean Todt.

At Barcelona, Bourdais has this week been involved in what has been described as a test 'shootout' for a race seat with fellow 2009 Toro Rosso contender Takuma Sato.

The pair have been closely matched in terms of pace, but it is rumored that Sato can bring to the Faenza based team a healthy purse of personal sponsorship.

Todt said the situation is difficult especially for the former F3000 champion and multiple Champ Car title winner Bourdais, whose "achievements are the envy of many drivers".

"It is correct that to be in November and not know what you will be doing next year is very unpleasant.

"Therefore our objective, whether he can be in formula one or not, is to clarify (the situation) as quickly as possible," Todt explained.

"At the moment, I am concentrating on formula one (for Bourdais).  After that, we will see.

"In any case, I am not anxious.  No matter what happens, Sebastien has a future at the highest levels of motor sport.  Whether it is formula one or not, is another question," he said. zzzz

10/20/08 (GMM) Sebastien Bourdais seems to be edging closer to keeping his seat at Toro Rosso for 2009.

The French driver has enjoyed a boost in form at recent races, but team co-owner Gerhard Berger said Toro Rosso officials are still looking into alternative plans for next year.

"There is nothing further to say on this point," the former grand prix driver told French radio RMC.

"We are collecting information and pursuing drivers to think about what is the best solution for us next year," Berger said.

He said Bourdais, the 29-year-old former multiple title winner of the defunct American Champ Car series, is at "the top of the list" for 2009.

"He has had several good races even when he always did not score points.  His potential is good but we are not yet ready to make a decision," Berger insisted.

To the same French source, Bourdais sounded confident about his future.

"I think they know now what Sebastien Bourdais can do.  They have a pretty good idea about what they are going to do next season.

"If other factors come into play, then that's another problem, but that's F1.  Things change, and often dramatically.  What matters most is that you manage to stay in the paddock," he said. 

10/17/08 Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger admits that Sebastien Bourdais is at the top of his list for 2009, but that he is no closer to making an announcement on drivers.

Scuderia Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has admitted that the team is no closer to making a decision on its driver line-up for 2009, despite being given an ultimatum by rookie Sebastien Bourdais on the eve of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Sebastien Bourdais in China
The four-time Champ Car champion is beginning to make waves on track after a slow start to his Formula One career, but also caused a few ripples off it this week when he used his regular column in French newspaper l'Equipe to admit that he is not going to wait around forever to find out whether he will be returning to Faenza next season.

Berger, however, confirmed on Friday that the team was still trying to build as clear a picture as possible on its various options, having tested both Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi as possible replacements for Sebastian Vettel, and been linked to Bruno Senna as another alternative.

"We don't really have news at this stage," Berger told a media conference at Shanghai International Circuit, "We are collecting names and data, and trying to understand what could be the best solution for us."

There was another positive quote for Bourdais to hang on to, however, as the Austrian insisted that the rookie's recent performances had opened a few eyes at STR.

"Obviously Sébastien is on top of the list," Berger insisted, "He especially drove a very good race last weekend, and he did well today. He is struggling to score a result for different reasons - sometimes his own mistake, sometimes because of a similar decision to last week - but, generally, we see that there is some good potential.

"However, we are not ready yet to make our decision. Obviously, we also have to see how we replace Sebastian [Vettel], so we are still in this process."  Eurosport

10/16/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais has admitted that his future in formula one still hangs in the balance.

Bosses of the Toro Rosso team have said their decision about the 2009 lineup, with Sebastian Vettel moving up to Red Bull Racing, has been delayed until the end of the season.

Candidates including rookies Sebastien Buemi and Bruno Senna, and Japan's popular Takuma Sato, are in the frame for seats.

Bourdais, a multiple title winner of the now defunct American Champ Car series, has had a difficult debut season alongside Vettel, but at Fuji finished sixth and ahead of the highly rated German race winner.

He was furious when stewards subsequently demoted him to tenth place because of his collision with championship contender Felipe Massa.

Bourdais wrote in his latest column for France's L'Equipe that good results are "essential" to his chances of staying at the team in 2009.

"My team has not yet decided whether it will keep me next year," the 29-year-old confirmed.

Recently, he was quoted as urging Toro Rosso to make its decision.

"If there comes a certain time when they have not taken a decision, it may be necessary for me to take it for myself.  I am neither hopeful nor anxious," Bourdais said.

10/14/08 When asked if Bourdais' Fuji performance had boosted the Frenchman's chances of staying with the team next year, Gerhard Berger said: "Well, I don't want to say anything at this stage because we have to sort out everything in a quiet way. But that's exactly what we need to see him doing as he did today. It was a good result."

09/12/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais has pleaded with his Toro Rosso bosses to give him another season in formula one to prove his talents.

The Frenchman has mainly struggled since the introduction of the Italian team's current STR3 chassis, as alternatives including Takuma Sato, Sebastien Buemi and Bruno Senna hope for their grand prix debut in 2009.

Bourdais, 29, told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that next year might be a better season for him.

"Maybe with the new regulations, I will not have the same problems," he said.  "Whether the bosses have the patience, I cannot judge.

"I can only tell a story: my first season of Champ Car in 2003 was also really tough, but Newman-Haas stuck with me and I thanked them with four titles," Bourdais added.

09/11/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais does not seem keen to keep racing in formula one next year, if he must do it at the wheel of the current Toro Rosso car.

The Frenchman is fighting to retain his place on the grid for 2009, but he openly admits to simply struggling for pace with the Ferrari-powered STR3.

He is quoted as saying by the International Herald Tribune that, at the wheel of the Red Bull Technology-supplied chassis, he is not able to show his true talents.

"For sure if I am judged upon my performance in this car, where I am a shadow of myself, then it is just frustrating," the four time Champ Car champion said.

Bourdais, 29, admits one of his weaknesses is not being able to adapt to a car that does not suit him.

"Obviously I would like to stay, but it all depends on what the expectations are," he said, referring to Toro Rosso chiefs Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost as they consider the team's 2009 lineup.

"If their expectations are for me to adapt to a car I don't like, then I don't think it's a good idea to keep me," Bourdais suggested.

09/05/08 Sebastien Bourdais likes his chances of staying on at Toro Rosso in 2009, despite being unsatisfied with his performance so far this year.  The Frenchman’s position at STR has come under scrutiny since his team announced that it would be holding a contest for one of its 2009 seats at the final test of the season in Jerez.

“I think I have a good chance of staying,” Bourdais told the official Formula 1 website.  “But we have to have a couple of good races and results and to score points – that would definitely help in the decision process.”

Bourdais admitted that, despite a good debut result at the season-opener in Australia, he has struggled since his team introduced its new Red Bull RB4-derived chassis in Monaco, especially in qualifying.

“Obviously I cannot be satisfied,” he said.  “I had an incredible start to the season but then I ran into problems. We found some set-up changes and I felt much more at ease with the results.  Then the new car arrived. It is a much faster car but it is also a very difficult car to drive if you want to extract the best out of it.  It’s not that I’m getting my ass kicked every fortnight – but it’s not far from it.  Probably it is one of my weaknesses – not being able to adapt my driving style to cars I don’t really like – and the consequence is that I am leaving a lot of performance on the table.  It is hard for me to put myself up, especially on one lap.  And as most of the weekend in Formula 1 is wrapped up in qualifying you can see where my problems stem from.”

08/29/08 Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has admitted that both his team's seats for 2009 are "open" with no guarantee that former Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais will be kept on.

The French racer's team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, will join Red Bull so the Austrian is looking for at least one driver and admits that he still has no "clear opinion" of Bourdais.

"The first direction that we look in is obviously to the Red Bull young driver program and then we’ll see. But we are not quite ready yet," Berger insisted.

"We don’t really have a list in our heads at this stage. We are far from saying it’s this one or that one because we are also waiting to see if something happens elsewhere - and probably then we’ll get a new chance," he added, referring to Fernando Alonso's possible move which could shake up the grid quite considerably.

On Bourdais specifically, he went on: "In Formula 1 you have to give someone half a year of time before you start to judge him.

"The half year is over and he is now in a situation where he has to prove his talents.  "I would not say that I already have a clear opinion on him, but I also have to say that Sebastian Vettel started a couple of races before and he performed very well in the first half year.

"So we will have to see how the second half goes for Sebastien Bourdais. And honestly I don’t want to be drawn into an expression of opinion at this very moment."

However, when asked if the driver was "a fixture" at the team for next season by formula1.com, he replied: "No. It's open".

08/25/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais' manager admits the French racer is not yet guaranteed a future on the F1 grid beyond 2008.

Nicolas Todt, who also handles the career of title contender Felipe Massa, told the French language 'RMC' that he is seeking to have the 29-year-old's contract extended to include next year.

"In F1, whether it is your first or your tenth year, you always have something to prove and you are always judged on your most recent races," Todt, the son of former Ferrari boss Jean Todt, said.

"Right now, Sebastien's future in F1 is not yet assured, but I have a good feeling that he can stay at Toro Rosso," he added.

08/07/08 (GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais needs to show some better performances this season before his future at Toro Rosso is secure.

That is the warning of Gerhard Berger, the Faenza based team's co-owner.

Sebastien Bourdais won't be smiling if he gets the axe.  He maintains 2008 car does not fit his driving style
Frenchman Bourdais, 29, entered formula one this year after a period of total dominance in the now defunct American open wheeler Champ Car series.

But while his teammate Sebastian Vettel has earned a graduation to the senior Red Bull Racing team for 2009, Bourdais has notably struggled ever since the latest STR3 chassis made its debut.

"What we have seen from him so far has not been too bad," Berger is quoted as saying by the Spanish language magazine 'Grand Prix'.

"Until now he has been in a period of formula one apprenticeship and putting in a couple of good results.

"Bourdais will continue with us in 2009 only if he really now begins to show us his potential," he insisted.

Meanwhile, amid rising speculation that Bruno Senna is in pole position for Vettel's 2009 seat, Berger also gave a boost to the hopes of Sebastien Buemi, who this year is an official Red Bull test driver.

Berger said another youngster, British F3 racer and Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari, is not yet ready for F1.

"It needs to be clear that Alguersuari is still at a very early stage of his development as a driver.

"Of all the Red Bull guys, the only one who could have a chance (for 2009) I think is Buemi," Berger explained.

08/02/08 Stick a fork in Bourdais, he appears to be done.  Another race and another embarrassment at the hands of his teammate Sebastian Vettel. Despite only running 9 laps yesterday due to car trouble, Vettel qualified a whopping 9/10ths of a second faster than Bourdais. 

"A shame to miss out on Q3 by one hundredth," said Vettel, "but we expected it to be tight. We can be happy though, especially given I only managed nine laps yesterday. It means we did a good job today. Now we can do what we like in terms of fuel load for the race and hopefully find a good strategy. I've yet to do a long run this weekend but I think we can find a good compromise between qualifying and race pace and we have a good set-up on the car."

Vettel appears to be able to go out there and get the job done despite minimal time in the car.  Meanwhile, Bourdais appears to be getting worse as the season progresses. 

"I struggled with the Option tire as it gave me no grip and I was sliding around more and had no feel for the car," said an obviously lost Bourdais who has never come to terms with the grooved tires.  In defense of rookie Bourdais, he is still learning the tracks.

08/01/08 Scuderia Toro Rosso is unlikely to finalize its 2009 Formula 1 World Championship driver line-up until Fernando Alonso has made his mind up as to where he will be next year, stressed STR co-owner Gerhard Berger at the Hungaroring this weekend.

“If Alonso moves, then there could be drivers with experience available,” the ten-time grand prix winner – whose fellow STR co-owner is billionaire Red Bull energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz – told news agency AFA.

“There are also good new generation Red Bull drivers, and Toro Rosso is aligned with the new generation. Ideally we would like to have a young driver next to an experienced one.

“We also have to see how Bourdais develops over the second half of the season.”  Bourdais has consistently been slower than his teammate Vettel and if he doesn't pick up the pace soon, could find himself without a ride for 2009.

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