Sebastien Bourdais is a French racing driver who is one of the most successful drivers in a modern era of the North American open-wheel racing. He reached a peak between 2004 and 2007, winning four consecutive titles in the CART Champ Car World Series.
After that success, he entered Formula 1 World Championship and spent one and a half season with Scuderia Toro Rosso but without notable results. He returned to the USA and since 2011 he is competing in the IndyCar Series.
Bourdais was also successful in sports car racing, scoring three overall podiums at 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Peugeot Total. In 2016, he scored GTE Pro victory at Le Mans 24h in a Ford GT. At Daytona 24 Hours, he was an overall winner in 2014 and GTLM class winner in 2017.
A birth in Le Mans predestined his career
As he was born in Le Mans, France, in 1979, Sebastien Bourdais' career choice was certainly influenced by the famous race event in his hometown. Coming from a family of racing drivers, Bourdais began driving at the age of 10, competing in various karting championships and progressing to Formula Campus, Formula Renault, and Formula 3000 in the nineties and early 2000s. He was the winner of Formula 3000 in the 2002 season with Super Nova Racing.
Four consecutive Champ Car titles with Newman-Haas Racing
After winning the championship, he signed for Newman-Haas, starting in Champ Car racing. Winning the Rookie of the Year title, Bourdais earned the 4th place overall at the end of the 2003 CART season.
In the following years, Bourdais won four consecutive Champ Car Series titles from 2004 to 2007, taking the last title just before Champ Car was merged into the IndyCar series. Great results in North American open-wheelers earned him a place among Formula 1 drivers.
No significant results in the Formula 1
After a series of unsuccessful tryouts in 2002 for Arrows and Renault, he returned to F1 after being given several tests for Scuderia Toro Rosso. In 2008, he drove alongside Sebastian Vettel, but with no significant results - two-seventh places, one at Melbourne and a heartbreaking one at Spa-Francorchamps Grand Prix, where he fell from third to seventh place in the last lap.
In 2009, he was partnered up with Sebastien Buemi. During the season, he won the 8th spot in Australia and eighth at Monaco Grand Prix, but because of his underwhelming results and the crash with his teammate in Spain, Toro Rosso manager Franz Tost replaced him in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Bourdais filed a suit against Toro Rosso and both sides settled out of court
After his departure from Formula One, Bourdais drove in Superleague Formula in 2009 and 2010 where he represented Sevilla FC and Olympique Lyonnais. In 2009, he also drove in FFSA GT Championship and debuted in V8 Supercar Championship Series in 2010. In 2011, Sebastien returned to IndyCar, making it his primary racing series from 2011 to 2015.
Endurance racing is where Bourdais feels at home
Though he achieved mixed results in open wheelers, Bourdais had a successful endurance career, especially in his home town race. He drove in 24 Hours of Le Mans several times. His first time participating in the event was in 1999 when he was just 20 years old. He made an appearance for Larbre Competition in a Porsche 911 GT2, and the car retired after 134 laps. He returned in the following year, finishing fourth for Pescarolo Sport with Olivier Grouillard and Emmanuel Clerico, behind three Audis who ended up on the podium.
Three Le Mans podiums with Peugeot
After several unsuccessful Le Mans outings in 2001 and 2004, Bourdais won two-second places driving for Peugeot factory team in 2007 and 2009. He stayed with Peugeotn 2010, but the pole-winning car suffered a suspension failure before his teammate Pedro Lamy could let him take over the wheel.
In addition to those endurance race appearances, he also won the Spa 24 Hours in 2002, as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2006. Bourdais had even earned two Dan Wheldon Memorial trophies, handed to the winners of the Gold Coast 600 V8 Supercars event.
In 2014, he won the Rolex at The Daytona 24, driving alongside Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa. He started in two more races, Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, where he and his crew finished third and second respectively. Bourdais spent the 2014 driving in IndyCar championship for KVSH Racing along Seb Saavedra, finishing tenth with one win in Toronto and second place at Mid-Ohio.
Positive IndyCar series results in 2015
In 2015, he started the season with a second place finish in Rolex at The Daytona 24. He drove alongside Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa again. In Tudor United SportsCar Championship, he made two more appearances at Sebring Raceway, winning the race, and Petite Le Mans at Road Atlanta where he was third overall and first in class.
In the IndyCar series, he made sixteen appearances with two wins: at the Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit and ABC Supply Wisconsin 250. In addition, Bourdais drove four races in the International V8 Supercars Championship for Charlie Schwerkolt Racing.
Video : A lap around the St. Petersburg circuit with Sebastien Bourdais
Victorious Le Mans return with Ford
For the season of 2016, Bourdais joined Chip Ganassi Racing and competed with the new Ford GT in selected races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but also at 24 hours of Le Mans. He had a victorious return at Le Mans, scoring GT class victory with Joey Hand and Dirk Muller.
In the 2016 IndyCar Series, still driving for KVSH Racing, he scored one victory (Detroit) and finished 14th in the points.
2017 - victory at Daytona and a crash at Indianapolis
In 2017, Bourdais started a season with a GTLM class victory at Daytona 24 Hours, sharing the #66 Ford GT with Joey Hand and Dirk Muller.
For the 2017 IndyCar season, Bourdais joined Dale Coyne Racing and won his first race in the #18 Dallara-Honda, in the season-opening race at St.Petersburg. He missed a big part of the season after a nasty accident during time trials for Indianapolis 500, returning for the last three races of the season.
Podiums both at Daytona and Le Mans in 2018
Bourdais prolonged a deal with Dale Coyne Racing for the 2018 IndyCar season, same as the deal with Chip Ganassi Racing for the IMSA SportsCar Championship season. He scored one IndyCar victory in 2018, in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, finishing the season 7th in the points. In the sports car races, the highlights of the season was the second place in GTLM class at Daytona 24h and third place in GTE Pro class at Le Mans 24h.
In 2019, Bourdais stayed with Dale Coyne Racing and scored just one IndyCar podium to finish 11th in the points. In sports cars races, his greatest result was the second place at Sebring 12 Hours with Chip Ganassi Racing's Ford GT.