If Bourdais canít make it, who can?
Sebastien Bourdais came over to Formula One with a most impressive resume having won the F3000 championship, taken rookie honours in his first year in Champ Car and then won the championship in each of the next four seasons. This week,
Toro Rosso confirmed that the Frenchman has been dropped from its line-up with immediate effect.
The question now for aspiring US open wheel racers is that if Bourdais canít make it in F1, who in the US scene can?
Bourdais is a talent of which there is no doubt but his premature departure from Formula One is the latest in a fairly long line of drivers who have moved from the US to F1 and not made the grade for one reason or another.
Alex Zanardi raced for Lotus in Formula One and then went over to Champ Car nee CART. The Italian dominated with Ganassi Racing and return to F1 with Williams. Zanardi was off the pace of then team-mate Ralf Schumacher
and his contract was terminated at the end of his first season back in the series.
IRL champion Scott Dixon flirted with Williams a few years ago in testing but returned to the IndyCar series. Cristiano da Matta won the championship with Newman/Haas and joined Toyota; the Brazilian proved consistent, but his time in Formula One was fairly short-lived before he too returned to the US.
There are of course a few examples of North American racers making a successful move to Formula One, the first of course being Mario Andretti who won the championship with Lotus in 1978. Juan Pablo Montoya
was another racer to shine in F3000 and move on to Ganassi Racing in the US.
The Colombian returned with Williams and enjoyed a successful stint with the Grove-based squad and then with McLaren before walking away from the series mid-season and starting a NASCAR career.
Jacques Jacques Villeneuve
also cut his teeth in the US racing scene and moved over to Williams and won the championship in 1997.
However the US scene is not as healthy as it once was and Bourdais was the last driver to make the jump and given the Frenchmanís pedigree, he had been expected to adapt to the demands of F1 with relative ease.
Formula One has a new team on the horizon with USF1 joining the circus next season which, if rumours prove correct, are seeking an experienced driver in one car and recruit a rising US star for the second seat.
However while the likes of Danica Patrick have made a massive impact on the IndyCar championship (and subsequently shunned any potential move to F1) there is currently no obvious US open wheel candidates - with or without US citizenship - ready to make the jump to Formula One.
With Bourdais getting the axe from a relatively small team, it will now undoubtedly be much tougher for rising talent to make the jump across the Atlantic. The big question is that with the demise of Champ Car, can IndyCar can now provide the platform needed for a rising star to shine?