Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais has commented on how angry he was left after a strong result got away from him in last weekend’s 2018 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. After the race, Bourdais cited poor stewarding decisions, a bad pit-strategy and “racing idiots” as the numerous factors that led to him finishing thirteenth after having been in contention for a podium earlier on in the event.
Bourdais’ race started off strong when he and Scott Dixon began to fight over the podium positions after avoiding early incidents up front. However, the slippery slope of misfortune began with the Frenchman’s fantastic pass on Dixon whilst the pair negotiated lapped traffic.
Bourdais went from the outside of Dixon to the inside of a lapped car on the run into turn one, but the move was judged illegal by the stewards as he had crossed into the pit-exit lane during the manoeuvre. He was thus ordered to give the position back to Dixon, which he did before re-passing him a few corners later with a superb dive up the inside of turn one.
“It was [two laps] after the restart and Dixon is getting a run on whoever is in front of him and I’m getting a run on both, and I’m using push-to-pass, which nobody did,” said Bourdais, recounting the exchange which led to the stewards call, “As soon as I crossed the start/finish line, I hit the button because that’s when it becomes active again.
“Next thing you know, I’m getting the run of hell and I make the move on Scott when they are side-by-side already. But I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and what I did wrong because I make the move and then he dumps me in pit (exit) lane.
“I don’t see where is the violation, but they [the IndyCar stewards] deemed that wrong and got me really [wound] up. I was straight pissed off because, when I make a mistake or I violate a rule or something, I’m the first one to raise my hand. But I did nothing wrong on that one.”
Bourdais remained in the hunt for the podium positions until a full-course caution was called when his Dale Coyne Racing team-mate, Zachary Claman De Melo, crashed in the final sector. Bourdais, along with Dixon, immediately dived into the pits as the race leader, Alexander Rossi, and a number of other drivers had already made their stops. However, the pits were closed when Bourdais and Dixon entered, therefore earning both a drive-through penalty.
The penalty meant that Bourdais was now deep in the midfield, where he would then fall victim to a number of altercations with other drivers, including Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball – who cut-off Bourdais at turn one when the Frenchman tried to get by – and Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Jordan King; who spun Bourdais around at the final hairpin.
“These races turn into a circus when that happens and, unfortunately, it was somewhat self-inflicted,” Bourdais said. “We stayed out [in the laps before Claman De Melo’s incident] and we shouldn’t have. With the way the rules are, you just always want to be on the early side of the [pit] window.
“We just took a chance and paid the full price for it. On top of that, you end up racing idiots, who close the doors and don’t end up leaving you any room. I ended up being side by side with [Charlie] Kimball. He turns [in] on me when we’re already side by side, we make contact (and) he bends both of my toe links on the right side. The car is a mess after that and I end up in the marbles at Turn 9. And then Jordan [King] feels like a million dollars, dumps it in there and turns us around.”
“It’s just such a disappointment,” he concluded, “[I] just drove probably one of my best races in quite some time. The car was really very strong under braking and made some really good passes. We were really competitive, to get nothing out of it.”
Bourdais will be severely hoping that his next race goes a lot better than Long Beach. He will not have long to wait to find out, however. The 2018 Grand Prix of Alabama, the fourth round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, takes place this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.