US open-wheel veteran Paul Tracy has reacted to the news of Sebastien Bourdais losing his Formula One seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso by admitting that he has mixed emotions about the Frenchman possibly returning to America.
Bourdais' release by the Faenza concern naturally sparked - or, indeed, fanned - rumours that he could be bound for the IndyCar Series, despite claims from the four-time Champ Car title-winner that he had not given up chasing the 'F1 project for which I have renounced my career in the United States'.
Bourdais made his name with Newman/Haas Racing when, having failed to attract the attention of F1 team owners following his F3000 championship success, he jumped at the chance to race in Champ Car in a bid to further raise awareness of his ability. Even with a hat-trick of titles under his belt, however, the Frenchman remained unwanted and, having announced that he had given up on the F1 dream, a new management deal with Nicolas Todt saw a fourth crown rewarded with a seat at Toro Rosso.
Since then, however, he has failed to reproduce his CCWS form in F1, with 27 starts producing just six points, albeit with a team that, despite 2008 team-mate Sebastian Vettel's Italian GP win and comparable machinery to Red Bull Racing, continues to be known as a backmarker. After weeks, even months, of speculation - he was a late, late confirmation for 2009 - the Frenchman was formally ousted from the Toro Rosso line-up after the weekend's German Grand Prix, with Spanish teenager Jaime Alguersuari the likely replacement.
Tracy has since admitted that, while he would look forward to winding Bourdais up, both on and off track - he seems to have correctly predicted the Frenchman's period in F1 [see story HERE
] - he would be disappointed to see his former rival waltz back into a leading seat, especially as he has had to sweat over a handful of outings in 2009.
"I'm not surprised he's got the boot," the outspoken Canadian wrote in his regular racer.com
blog, "The guy was a misery even when he had the best car and was winning everything, so I guess he's been pretty unbearable this last 18 months. He's a great driver, but I bet his attitude didn't exactly encourage the team to solve his problems.
"I'm in two minds about this. I'm dreaming of the day that I'm able to give Bourdais the gears again but, like I've said in previous blogs, I will be mightily pissed if he walks back into a deal when I've been working my tail off doing promotions, and helping to sell tickets for race organisers, and don't get a ride."
Whether or not Bourdais gets a place in the field for next season remains to be seen, and could rest largely on whether he even wants to return to US, but Tracy is adamant that he wants greater involvement next season, even if it means foregoing further outings in 2009.
"Racing is starting to dominate my thoughts again, like it did at the start of my career, and what I'm thinking about is the future, not the past," he wrote, "My first priority is trying to do a whole season next year. My second is for it to be with KV Racing... but it all depends on financing and whether we can generate sponsorship. Given a full-season programme, I'm confident that KV Racing can regularly challenge for wins in 2010. They have the equipment, the personnel and the team spirit to do it.
"If [co-owner] Jimmy [Vasser] had to say 'no', there are other potential openings, other shifts in the driver market. For example, there's a big question mark over possible vacancies at Andretti Green Racing. People have asked whether I would get on with Michael Andretti, and I realise we had our problems back in the '90s, but we got on fine when we were team-mates at Team Green/Andretti-Green in 2001-'02 - and I did everything asked of me at Toronto, and that was an Andretti Green Promotions race. That's all you can do, act in a professional way.
"I'm older now, I'm a different person than I was ten or 15 years ago. I like Tony Kanaan and, [while] I don't really know Marco [Andretti], I'd be happy to help with set-ups and stuff like that. From green light to chequered flag on raceday, I'm a selfish SOB but, through the rest of the weekend, I can be a team player, share data and feedback, and so on.
"The stupid thing is [that] the Indy Racing League are gonna need me to help sell tickets for the Canadian races next year, but to not drive on a road course for a year (like I did from Edmonton 2008 to Watkins Glen '09) won't help my cause – or the spectator numbers, because the Canadian fans will see it as a PR stunt.
"It's one thing doing Indy for a whole month; you can do a decent job there because you've got a lot of time to dedicate to getting the car how you want it, and getting yourself race-sharp, [but] it's only gonna get harder and harder to parachute me in for two races and expect me to do well. I'm 40 - I can't just take a year off and expect to then turn up and chase down Penske and Ganassi cars. After Edmonton, I've got nothing for now, and that depresses me."