After a part-time return to the IndyCar series in 2011, Sébastien Bourdais is weighing up his options for 2012. The Frenchman has reportedly been linked to interest from his current employer Dale Coyne, as well as Andretti Autosports and Newman Haas, and has said he would welcome a full-time ride if a few existing issues were ironed out.
After being dropped by Toro Rosso in Formula 1 midway through 2009, Bourdais, a four-time Champ Car series champion, spent 2010 hopping between the American Le Mans Series and the European SuperLeague before being courted for a return to the American open-wheel landscape where he enjoyed so much success.
While a seat was not available at his old team Newman Haas at the time, the Frenchman made his racing return to the IndyCar Series this year with Dale Coyne Racing, participating only in the road and street course events. Alex Lloyd took over the driving duties on the ovals.
One such issue keeping Bourdais’ signature off the contract for the time being is indeed an issue that is on the minds of so many within the series at the moment: pack racing on ovals.
Bourdais is no stranger to ovals, and in fact won his very first start on such a track at the Lausitzring in Germany in 2003. However, the associated dangers in light of the events of Las Vegas weigh heavily on the minds of many drivers and officials, Bourdais included.
“I would say my desire to race in IndyCars has not changed since Las Vegas. It’s actually looking better now than before,” he told Speed.
“Before, I had big reservations about the one-and-a-half [mile ovals] and now I think we will never see that type of racing again. That takes a big chunk of the risk out of the equation and makes everything a lot better. After what happened, I don’t think we can go back to the way it used to be.”
Prior to the race in Las Vegas, it was announced that the series had signed an extension on the contract to race at the Las Vegas Speedway, and that the series would return in 2012.
Tony Cotman, the designer of recent street circuit forays in Sao Paulo and Baltimore, was also the brainchild of the Las Vegas street circuit used by Champ Car in 2007 and – if rumours are to be true – is believed to be investigating the prospect of returning to that layout as an alternative to the oval which claimed the life of Dan Wheldon last month. Should that eventuate, it would leave Texas as the only currently confirmed 1.5-mile oval on the 2012 calendar.
You have to do everything you can to prevent the things that went wrong [at Las Vegas],” Bourdais added. “Tragedies make people wake up and I hope nobody forgets this.”
[Images via LAT]