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Q&A: Paul Tracy - EXCLUSIVE.

I think it's pretty normal, no different from the mid-'90s or the early 2000s, [when] you had a lot of guys coming over from Europe. In the era that I've raced, you've had ex-F1 drivers like [Mauricio] Gugelmin, Mark Blundell, Gil de Ferran coming along - guys who spent a lot of their career trying to forge a finish from F1 coming to Champ Car, so I don't think that's changed. What has changed is that the age of the drivers has gotten younger.

With the number of overseas drivers coming through, do you think it is to the detriment of American drivers - or Canadian drivers - who really should perhaps be coming into Champ Car?

I don't think so. At the end of the day, it's all about results. Some of these teams that are out here now need funding and some of these younger drivers are either supported by Red Bull or they have backing from whatever country, and companies in those countries, that feel it is a viable option for them to be in Champ Car. Right now, in America and Canada, it is very very difficult to find sponsorship for open-wheel racing and that is because NASCAR dominates the sponsorship front. It is where the money is dedicated to. It costs money to run these [Champ] cars and, if a team is to be fielded, they need funding for it, and the European drivers tend to have access to that, through junior programmes, be it with Red Bull or whatever...

Obviously, AJ Allmendinger was a protégé of yours and had a bit of Red Bull support, so how disappointing was it for you personally to see him defect to NASCAR?

It's his decision - but obviously the series wanted him to stay and I know for sure that my team owner, Gerald Forsythe, wanted him to stay, but the opportunity was offered to him to go with a big Red Bull programme and a factory-supported Toyota programme and I think that looked very appealing going in. But now I think it has been a very difficult transition for him. Of course, we're talking now in hindsight, but there could have been more opportunities for him within Red Bull, to go to Formula One or do something else had he stayed within Champ Car and continued to win. Last year, when he came joined our team, he tended to get the better of Sebastien [Bourdais] - who is now in line to get a Red Bull [supported] seat in F1. Maybe that could have been AJ's...

We can safely say that American hopes in Champ Car - this season and in the future - lie with Graham Rahal, who has come up from the Atlantic series [for 2007], but what do you make of quotes attributed to him after Cleveland, which suggested that he was maybe reluctant to pass you because, to quote him, 'you didn't care, and that you'd put him in the wall'? Is that the wrong attitude for somebody as young as Graham to come into Champ Car with?

I haven't had the chance to talk to him about it, but the incident between him and I was really caused by him and [Robert] Doornbos playing around and trying to run each other off the track. Whether he feels he was nervous about trying to pass me or not, I guess that's a good thing for me because, the more he feels that way, the more it leaves me in a better position to race against him. At the end of the day, I was going to sit down and talk with and say 'hey, listen, I raced against your father for nearly 15 years and never once came into conflict with him'. Like I said, the incident between him and me was really the end result of him and Robert messing around with each other, so it wasn't something that was caused by me, or initiated by me - it was the end result of him and Robert trying to have each other off the track.

You mention Robert Doornbos there.... He was penalised in Cleveland for an alleged blocking offence early in the race and then won in Mont-Tremblant, only to be accused by Sebastien Bourdais of trying to run him off the track. Do you think Sebastien was over-reacting or was there some just cause there?

I don't know. I haven't seen it myself, or seen anything on TV to suggest whether Sebastien was run off or not. At the end of the day, I did see the incident between Rahal and Robert, and he took him all the way to the grass and had him pinned all the way along the edge of the grass, which is really against the rules in Champ Car racing. Whether that is allowed in F1, or in Europe, is arbitrary the rules are the rules of Champ Car. I think, at the end of the day, Sebastien got out of the car and had a major meltdown in front of the Quebec French fans and they kinda reacted in a negative way to him for his complaint at the end of the race. There are two things that really went on there... At the beginning of the race, Sebastien clearly jumped the start, which was seen on TV, and he was let away with that with no penalty, so he should be thankful that he didn't have to do a drive-thru' on that.

You've had your share of run-ins with Sebastien over the years. Do you think he has perhaps got too used to winning and now he's under pressure a little bit more?


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Paul Tracy - Forsythe Championship Racing Panoz-Cosworth DP01   [pic courtesy Champ Car World Series]
Champ Car World Series.  22-24 June 2007. Cleveland Grand Prix. Burke Lake Front Airport. Cleveland, Ohio. Race winner, PAUL TRACY.
Champ Car World Series.  July 1, 2007. Mont Tremblant Circuit. Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. Bourdais  displays his displeasure with Doornbos race tatics on podium.
Graham Rahal Detroit celebration
Graham Rahal Detroit IndyCar 2017
Graham Rahal Detroit
Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 practice
Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais headshot
Sebastien Bourdais Indy 500 practice 2017
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing) celebrates in Detroit   [image creid: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastian Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastien Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [pic credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal sits in his Honda machine on pit lane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais with experimental LED Tire Lights on course during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Graham Rahal drive their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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