TORONTO, Ontario — Sebastien Bourdais admits that he is not a good spectator as it will be tough watching the Honda Indy Toronto from the sidelines, but he still made the trip north of the border to support his Dale Coyne Racing teammates.
“Craig (Hampton) wanted me to come, and I obviously wanted to see the guys and everything that I haven’t seen for awhile,” Bourdais told POPULAR SPEED. “I think the timing was good, and he’s right. It’s one of the places where little pointers can make a big difference for the drivers, and they’re both new to this track with this car.”
Bourdais started off the season with a victory in the season opener at St. Petersburg, followed by a pair of top-eight finishes in the next four races before his accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
During qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, he made substantial contact with the wall, suffering multiple fractures to the pelvis and a broken right hip. He underwent successful surgery for his pelvic injuries on the evening of the crash, before going through physical therapy.
Now two months removed from the accident, he says he is feeling great.
“It’s been a lot of a long process, but we knew that going in, and the good thing is things are headed in the right direction,” he said. “There’s no setbacks or surprises. It’s just a game of patience, and as I said, thankfully the bones are healing well. There’s no reason now to worry about it. It’s just going to follow its course, and let us do our thing soon.”
While Bourdais was initially focused on returning for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway, there is now a possibility that he will run the final two races on the schedule – Watkin’s Glen, along with Sonoma.
“They were looking at August 15 for me to get back into the car to see how it is feeling in testing,” he said. “Now, I think it’s more open, depending on how the schedule is going around and the rotation of the car with road courses and ovals. It could be as early as Mid-Ohio, but that’s going to be pending to IndyCar and whether they let us do it, and the team, and insurance, and everything around. There’s a lot of questions, which we’re not quite sure, so now unless that test goes not well or I’m uncomfortable, I should be able to make it back for the last two.”
While Bourdais has been on the sidelines, Esteban Gutierrez has been driving the No. 19 entry in his place for the past four races, with a career-best finish of 13th at Iowa Speedway last weekend. Before racing in IndyCar, he drove for Haas F1 last season after spending a year with Scuderia Ferrari as a test driver.
“It’s like throwing someone into the deep end of the pool,” Bourdais said of Gutierrez. “It’s tough when you’re a rookie in the series with the depth of this field and everything. I think he’s done well, because first of all, he hasn’t made any mistakes, and making steady progress. You can’t expect to throw a guy like that in the middle of the season with no oval experience, no experience in the car, and new tracks – partially, that first weekend in Detroit. People were starting to judge him and everything. Well, you people forget the density of the field and the fact that it’s one of the hardest tracks of the whole season. It was very unfair to him.
“But in the meantime, I think he’s enjoying the experience and learning and taking his time. I think he’s here to stay. He seems to be enjoying the series, the format, and the car, and the racing. So he did well at Iowa for the first race at an oval, and hopefully, he can keep making progress like that and do well.”
Although helping his teammates isn’t the ideal situation Bourdais would like to be in, he is thankful for how well things are going.
“It could’ve been a lot worse, and I could not be walking right now,” he said. “As I said from the beginning, it was my mistake, and I’m paying for it, so just got to suck it up and deal with it.”
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