Sébastien Bourdais has admitted that the late arrival of Scuderia Toro Rosso's new car for the 2009 Formula 1 season 'for sure is not an advantage' – but he nonetheless remains positive of enjoying a far more successful campaign in the top flight than he did last year.
The Frenchman has been retained for a second season at the Red Bull 'junior' outfit following a long winter of uncertainty during which both he and ex-Super Aguri refugee Takuma Sato waited anxiously to find out which of the pair would be given the nod.
Happily from his point-of-view, Bourdais got the verdict – allowing him to look ahead to his new challenge with renewed confidence and determination. If he acknowledges that the late launch of the new STR4 – the last of the 2009 machines to see the light of day – will leave little pre-season testing time, he joked that at least he will get his hands on the updated model a little earlier than was the case in 2008…
“For sure it is not an advantage,” the 29-year-old reflected, speaking exclusively to Crash.net
, “but at least we will have the new car from first race, which was not the case last year. Also, RB5 (upon which STR's car will be based) seems to be quite competitive straightaway, and that is great news for us and the STR4.”
Indeed, for much of the early-to-middle part of last season, Bourdais struggled to get a handle on the small Faenza-based squad's new machine, but by the end of the year he was proving to be all-but a match for highly-rated team-mate Sebastian Vettel, F1's newest and youngest-ever grand prix winner.
Some have suggested that the return of slick tyres to the sport will play in the record-breaking multiple Champ Car king's favour, and with another 'Seb' alongside him in 2009 in the shape of GP2 Series graduate Sébastien Buemi, he is clearly hopeful of picking up where he left off and of showing his detractors that not only does he deserve his place at the pinnacle of international motorsport – but that he is in it for the long haul.
“I think everyone is familiar with slicks,” he reasoned. “Obviously everyone has been driving on slicks in every series they have been racing in prior to F1. It's only in F1 that you had to deal with grooved tyres, and in the end I wouldn't say grooved tyres have been a huge problem for me.
“The problem is always the balance of the car. I was happy with the STR2 but not with the STR3, although it was a much quicker car. Everything needs to be put into perspective.
“Sébastien is a nice guy; I met him last year. He's quick and obviously wants to do well in his first season in Formula 1. I'm sure we will have a good relationship and we'll try to give the best results to the team.
“It's obviously very difficult to anticipate what the '09 season is going to be. Hopefully our car is going to have a strong back and good rear stability, and I will be happy with it and can perform really well for the team and for myself. That's all I can say. The goal is quite clear; it's the same as last year – to try and score as many points as we can.”