IndyCar Driver Review: Sebastien Bourdais

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Making it into the top-10 to round out the first 10 drivers we’re examining in MotorSportsTalk’s driver-by-driver review is Sebastien Bourdais of KVSH Racing.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

Sebastien Bourdais

  • Team: KVSH Racing
  • 2013: 12th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 2nd, 3 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 6 Top-10, 87 Laps Led, 13.8 Avg. Start, 13.0 Avg. Finish
  • 2014: 10th Place, 1 Win, 2 Poles, 2 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 98 Laps Led, 9.8 Avg. Start, 11.3 Avg. Finish

Sebastien Bourdais enjoyed a popular return to victory lane (Toronto race one) as part of an uptick in consistent, competitive form throughout 2014 as part of his switch to KVSH Racing. Yet in some respects there felt like there were too many missed opportunities, through a mix of poor luck and an oddly high number of unforced errors that peppered his season.

If there was an obscure penalty to be issued, Bourdais found it throughout the season. Bourdais was penalized for not packing up at St. Petersburg, taking service in a closed pit in Long Beach, making contact with Mikhail Aleshin at Barber, and passing under yellow at Fontana. There were four occasions where Bourdais’ name was listed in the in-race penalty section, one of the highest numbers in the series. Then there were a series of spins and accidents that you wouldn’t have expected someone of Bourdais’ experience and ability level to make.

Statistically speaking, there were gains. Bourdais’ average grid spot jumped from 13.8 to 9.8, he made three Firestone Fast Six appearances compared to one, he led 98 laps instead of 87, seven top-10s up from six, and a jump from 12th to 10th in the final points standings. He gelled with new engineer Olivier Boisson and was once again one of the second half’s best drivers. Still, it felt there was more unfulfilled potential than tangible results to hang his hat on when looking back on the whole.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”