IndyCar Star Sebastien Bourdais Miffed Over 'Idiots' at Long Beach GP
The former series champion was spun out with only 14 laps to go, damaging his car and effectively removing him from podium contention.
Aside from the race-winner Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais was the hero of Sunday's IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach; however, the contest didn't end in such heroic fashion for the Frenchman. A powerful drive from his P9 qualifying spot put the 39-year-old towards the front, and when caution was thrown with 25 laps to go, Bourdais elected to pit. This move dropped him to 11th place from third, but even more crucial than that, Bourdais was spun by rookie Jordan King at the hairpin near race's end—a move which he cites to the "idiot" drivers in the back half of the field.
The incident occurred 71 laps into the 85-lap event which made it all the more infuriating for Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing. Just 15 minutes prior, they were calculating a strategy to land him near Rossi, but as King swiped the rear of the No. 18 Honda racer, hopes of a decent finish were burned. According to Bourdais, the young driver's ego ruined what was an otherwise prime day for him and his team to fight for a podium.
“It was such a frustrating day,” said Bourdais during a press conference. “The car was really hooked up. I had a pretty good feeling in the warm-up and the conditions stayed the same for the race. It was a tough call to start on Firestone blacks [primaries], but I was confident it was the right thing to do as long as I could hold my position at the start and that is exactly what happened. Thankfully, the start was stretched, so I wasn't under attack until I was up to speed."
"Then I really started to push hard because I could tell the guys on red [alternate] tires were in conservation mode. So, I started to think this could be a pretty good day. I passed a bunch of cars, and when I got to [Scott] Dixon I held station. He was driving really well. He had the pace because he had saved his tires."
“We got to the first pit sequence and Dixon, I am sure, short-filled and jumped [Will] Power. We stayed on schedule and put on red tires, and at that point, it looked like the race was coming our way. Clearly, [Alexander] Rossi was on a different planet, but other than him we were right there.”
A bout with Dixon and an eventual overtake was initially rewarding for Bourdais, but Race Control ruled that he must surrender the position as a penalty for running over the pit lane exit. While he promptly regained the spot, Sebastien was puzzled by the decision and listed that as his first gripe.
“I got Dixon on the restart and Race Control deemed that a violation,” he said. “I thought that was interesting because I am not quite sure what I was supposed to do. I was committed. There was room and he didn't see me, so he came down on me and pushed me into the pit lane. If you get forced into the pit lane, I am not sure it is your responsibility."
“So, I got rather upset and I passed him right back. I was pretty happy about that.”
Amidst the drama, Bourdais was slinging passes all over the track including a valiant move that put him past three cars in one sequence. He felt that his race was up to par throughout, and as long as the team's strategy held strong, no internal factors would hold him back. However, a decision to run long without pitting caused some issues and, as a result of the yellow-flag entry, Bourdais lost the edge and was placed squarely between a set of unseasoned drivers.
“I was racing [Charlie] Kimball side-by-side and he gives me no room, and he bent both of my toe links on the right side. It was pretty much game over from there. I made a mistake because of it, trying to pass him again later into Turn 9. The car wouldn't turn anymore.
“Then Jordan King felt like a hero and took us out,” he continued. “After that, I had to deal with another idiot, Matheus Leist, who tried to crash both of us a couple of times."
“There really wasn't much to salvage after that. It's really disappointing. The car was good. I drove the wheels off it. Passed a bunch of guys and we have nothing to show for it."