The last time Sébastien Bourdais lapped the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he exited in an ambulance after a meeting with the Turn 2 wall left the Frenchman with broken bones and his confidence in tatters.
His return on Monday came with the same Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team and the same engineering tandem of Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson took care of the confidence part, but even with his trusted group surrounding the No. 18 Honda, Bourdais says he couldn’t put the crash completely out of his mind.
“You think about it, of course,” the four-time Champ Car champion told RACER. “I didn’t know what I was going to feel like going through Turn 2. I was surprised it really didn’t do much. You’re a little bit more conscious to keep a little more understeer in it. I don’t think it’s something you want to completely erase, either. It was some kind of a lesson, which I paid a pretty hefty price for.”
In testing the new Universal Aero Kit bodywork in Speedway trim for the first time, Bourdais – like most of his rivals – started out during the two-hour morning session by gradually increasing his speed. It made overcoming any lingering nerves or concerns much easier to process. Whether Bourdais will attempt another crazy qualifying run and dance on the edge of danger is another matter altogether…
“I don’t know… we’ll see what we come up with,” he said. “It’s this place. It drags you into a place where maybe you shouldn’t go. It’s a bit of a mind game. Everybody goes over the line sometimes at the 500; whether it’s a good thing to do or not, I don’t know.
“Last year I stepped over the line and that wasn’t good, so we’ll try not to do that again, but still, obviously, we want to be on pole and we want to win it. You know at some point you’ll have to take some chances, not to be stupid, but you’ll have to.”