Sebastien Bourdais is under no allusions that had it not been for the global economic crisis and the subsequent cost-cutting measures pursued by the FIA he may well have been saying goodbye to Formula One this year.
The Frenchman competed in a three-way driver shoot-out before Christmas alongside fellow Toro Rosso hopefuls Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi.
Despite impressing the Faenza-based outfit as far as his position on the timesheet was concerned it was Sato who emerged as favourite to partner the super-quick Buemi because of his financial backing – an attribute that no doubt looked increasingly appealing to the team in the wake of the global financial downturn and Honda’s shock exit from the sport.
According to Bourdais, one of the main reasons Toro Rosso subsequently changed their mind and decided to offer him the second race seat was because of the cost-cutting measures introduced by the FIA and the stability it brought to the team.
“The choice of driver was firstly linked to the need to find sponsors, and then it wasn’t, and then it was again,” he told French newspaper L’Equipe. “Originally it was effectively essential, and then when all the cost-saving measures were taken into account, it was clear that Red Bull would save $100 million on its two teams.
“All of a sudden it became much less of a worry and I was back at the head of the queue compared to their initial preferences. “Previously (my manager) Nicolas Todt had looked everywhere for backers but it didn’t go as he would’ve liked because of the difficult economic climate.”
Despite being particularly vocal about the team’s original inclination towards Sato on the grounds of finance, Bourdais says he is now moving on.
“I’ve tried not to take it personally,” he said.”I fully understood that it was linked to the economic context – which was complicated for both the team and the wider economy.
“There was a moment when it was truly hard. The situation was just unbearable. It’s taken time, quite simply. From a competitive standpoint I saw that the team had a real wish for continuity and to do a second season with me – there was a certain investment made last year.
“As far as I’m concerned, we didn’t really have success and therefore it would’ve been a shame to end it there. It was the wish of (team boss) Franz Tost, the engineers and the mechanics to ensure that there was a sequel to the story because we saw it had potential last year.”