Out-of-work Scuderia Toro Rosso refugee Sébastien Bourdais has set out his stall for a return to F1 with one of the sport's three new teams in 2010 – but the record-breaking former multiple Champ Car king has admitted that finances will be the key issue in wherever he ends up competing next year.
Money, indeed – or rather a distinct lack of it – almost cost Bourdais his berth at Red Bull 'junior' concern STR this year as he went head-to-head with ex-Super Aguri ace Takuma Sato for the seat. As it was, he clung onto his drive for a sophomore campaign at the highest level by the skin of his teeth, after having left all of his rivals across the Pond fairly trailing in his wake.
Unfortunately, he proved unable to replicate that form in F1, and after a promising end to his maiden season in 2008, the first half of 2009 fell a long way short of expectations, with the Frenchman finding himself routinely out-performed by young rookie team-mate and namesake Sébastien Buemi before being unceremoniously and summarily dismissed in favour of reigning British F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari ahead of last month's Hungarian Grand Prix.
With the threat of legal action having since been quashed by an out-of-court settlement with Toro Rosso [see separate story – click here
], Bourdais has now turned his attentions to finding a means by which to claw his way back onto the grand prix grid – but with even more drivers seeking employment in the wake of BMW's recent withdrawal announcement, he recognises it will be far from easy.
“I aspire to find a place in F1,” he told French sports daily newspaper L'Équipe
. “Since there is no [in-season] testing, I can be attractive to the new teams. Some new teams will like this, for technical abilities, but without the money…the climate makes quite a difference.”
Should he fail in his bid to resurrect his stalled F1 career, Bourdais confessed that a return to America to compete in the IndyCar Series – possibly with Newman/Haas, with whom he claimed all four of his Champ Car crowns between 2004 and 2007 – is not entirely out of the question, and added that he hopes to remain with Peugeot in endurance racing circles too, having finished second for the French manufacturer in the Le Mans 24 Hours back in June. Funding, as ever, will be the deciding factor, he cautioned.
“I am under contract with Peugeot until the end of the year, and they seemed content with my work at Le Mans,” mused the 30-year-old, a native of the town himself. “As for the United States, I've always kept up contact with my team. The problem is they need money to run another car. Five million dollars is not easy to find at the moment.”