On the back of clinching a record-breaking fourth successive Champ Car World Series crown at Surfers Paradise, S?bastien Bourdais cast his thoughts towards the future of the championship he has dominated since the beginning of 2004, and gave some predictions on who might step into his victorious boots.

The Newmaan/Haas star has triumphed in 26 of the 66 races he has contested - an unrivalled statistic in Champ Car history - and he was quick to thank the team for its invaluable contribution to that success story. He also played down his own role, insisting there would be another driver to come along, fill the breach and maintain that winning form.

"Nobody is really irreplaceable," he asserted. "Obviously a driver is one part of that success and Carl (Haas) always seems to be able to find the right guy for the job, but it doesn't necessarily need to be S?bastien Bourdais. It's been other people before, and obviously great names like Michael (Andretti), Mario (Andretti), Nigel (Mansell) and Cristiano (da Matta). I'm sure they'll find someone else that can get it done just as well, build a new group and start a new adventure."

As to who that 'someone else' may be, Bourdais was keen to praise his young 2007 team-mate Graham Rahal, who has shown considerable promise over the course of his fledgling Champ Car career, currently sitting fifth in the drivers' standings with four podium finishes to his name in his debut campaign.

"I've seen a young man obviously who's got a very big talent," the Frenchman stressed, "and who has grown up extremely fast. In that field you've got to, otherwise you don't last very long, and he's very mature. In the meantime he's also shown that, if he doesn't always start super-fast off the bat, he can learn very quickly. Very often in the Saturday morning practice session he was getting very close, and sometimes just as fast as we were.

"I think he's obviously going to be on that trophy of drivers who can compete to win the championship next year. He's got a lot of potential but has had quite some bad luck which really prevented him from being a contender in the championship, but he has a year's relationship with the team already and I'm sure they'll be better-prepared than anyone else to get the job done.

"Obviously I think Justin is a very strong guy (too), but there are a lot of open questions - who's going to be where, what and how, and I think there are quite a few rookies who have shown a lot of promise like Graham, Robert Doornbos and Simon Pagenaud, who are all going to be guys to be looked at. After that you're going to have the usuals. Obviously Justin, but also Will Power is going to be very strong next year, and that's kind of a tough pick right now. I'd go probably with Justin, but we'll find out later."

As to his own legacy, Bourdais was asked whether he felt at all like Michael Schumacher, who made Formula 1 almost his own between 2000 and 2004, to the extent that very few other drivers even got so much as a look-in. While he refused to accept his success had made Champ Car racing boring, he did acknowledge it was probably the right time to be moving on.

"Domination for a sport is certainly not always a good thing," the 28-year-old admitted, "though we've only won so many races and I can't say every time we come to an event we'd be like, 'oh we're going to win again'. I think it was still pretty unpredictable the way the races unfolded and everything, but you might be right. Maybe some guys are happy to see me leave."

To see the interview in full, click here



Loading Comments...