Driver shootout..

So, as we take to the track for the first testing session, the Champ Car website is still listing last years driver line up, which only highlights just how… off… things are

Let’s go through the list shall we… (signed drivers green, probable blue, maybe’s orange, no’s red)

Sebastien Bourdais
(off to Europe, ciao, er… “au revoir”)
Dan Clarke
(was overlooked until the first practice of the first race of the 07 season. Had an unfairly controversial year. Is a no show at testing, rumoured to be taking flight in the IRL)
Ryan Dalziel
(Shafted a few times before by CC. It finally looked like the fairy tale was coming true. PCM was the feel good story of the year until they shafted Ryan for last 2 races of season. He wouldn’t touch CC with a 10ft pole now. Sports cars in 08)
Mario Dominguez
(1st 3 races for FCR, supersub rest of season, took Dalziel’s seat end of 07 and appeared to be a lock for 08 w/Tecate at PCM… no sign of him anywhere, also rumoured to be looking towards the IRL)
Robert Doornbos
(The Minardi golden boy was rumoured to be in the running for both an F1 ride and the NHL seat, neither happened. He is thus far a no show but will likely end up at Minardi)
Alex Figge
(daddy owns the team… duh) (should he have stepped out of the car at let Dalziel develop the team? um.. ya. Oh well, every series needs a backmarker. Although he found some speed over the winter apparently… so we’ll see.)
Tristan Gommendy
(came out of no where to be announced during training in 07. By the time we got to know him, he disappeared after the euro rounds. Money? Nationality? who knows. Probably should be red, but stranger things have happened…)
Matt Halliday (1st 3 races)
(great livery, money ran out, hardly knew ya. rumored to be called back at the end of season… never happened)
Jan Heylen
(was brought in to replace Halliday and be a billboard for the Euro races. Did his job to a T, then was shafted for last 2 races of season. Is part of the 08 Conquest cattle call, but unless they do 3 cars, it’s looking like Pag & Perera will get the call…)
Neel Jani
(Red Bull has gone bye bye, rumored to have fulfilled their CC obligation. Jani has opted to continue his pursuit of an A1GP title and F1 seat in 09, w/a few parting shots on the way out the door)
Bruno Junqueira
(Brought DCR to the forefront in 07. That fact alone should have him signed. But true to DCR form, nothing will be official until race day at Long Beach)
Katherine Legge
(our girl found out she wasn’t going to be driving at PKV in 07 the same way we did… when the press release came out announcing Gommendy. Ouch. Brought up too soon, not developed properly, then unceremoniously dumped anywhere due to obligation, she struggled at DCR in 07 but was improving by the end. Her 2 yr deal is up. If she doesn’t bring a big cheque, I doubt we will see her on the grid. Very sad)
David Martinez
(drove the last 2 races of the season & was rumoured to be in one of the Forsythe seats in 08, yet he is testing at PCM?? I would love to see him in any car this year. Good kid.)
Simon Pagenaud
(another victim of the funding for one year brigade. Had a stellar rookie season with TA. But money issues have sent him on the hunt for a seat elsewhere. It’s looking like he will land at Conquest)
Nelson Philippe
(shafted after spring training in 07 he rampaged around the world a very angry man then surprised everyone when he returned for the last 2 races of season, unfortunately he didn’t light the world on fire. He is thus far a no show at testing)
Will Power
(off season rumours had him sniffing around the IRL, but his PR rep confirmed to me yesterday that he is signed for 08, despite TA being a no show at testing)
Graham Rahal
(another one who should have been signed and announced without a doubt and marketed like stink on a monkey over the winter, but wasn’t confirmed until this week)
Oriol Servia
(shafted at the top of 07, he subbed in at FCR where he stayed until his nationality didn’t fit the bill. PKV picked him up when Gommendy’s money ran out, then were the first to announce their driver in 08. He deserves to have a secured seat for an entire season. Go get em cookie boy!)
Alex Tagliani
(returned to RS to try to recapture “the magic”, the only thing he captured was more bad blood. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice… my lawyers will be contacting you. He is now testing with PKV. One would hope he “passes”)
Paul Tracy
(well, well, well… what can I say… it was an interesting off season. Let’s just hope that the bullshit is behind us and we can concentrate on hoisting the cup at the end of the year)
Justin Wilson
(landed in the most sought after seat in CC after an off season of lawyers and contract fine print. Show em what you got bad ass!)

Thrown into the shootout mix this weekend are a bunch of young european drivers most on this side of the world have never heard of, with varying pedigrees, and fat checkbooks. One signed, the rest probable. Welcome to the European F1 test driver repository. LOL!

Franck Montagny
Franck Perera
Enrique Bernoldi
Ernesto Viso
Mario Moraes

With all the F3, F3000, GP2 & F1 cast off’s potentially on track this season, one has to wonder how the styles of driving will change the season. Of course, Seabass won’t be here to whine about the blocking, and Cottman won’t be here to enforce the NHL rule book, so… Could be interesting.


10 responses to “Driver shootout..

  1. Bleh.

  2. LOL!~ all that work compiling and writing and that’s all you have to say?!?!

    ya, I hear ya.

    See in a perfect world, all but Seabass would be locked in, and all those euro hotshoes would be testing for 3rd cars and new teams…

    *and then she woke up to realize this was not a perfect world, and never would be…*

  3. I have never bought the gomer mantra that we need mostly ‘Muricans in the seats to attract fans, but I am beginning to lean that way. Although, I would alter it to say that American = U.S./Canadian, and even then it is not so much about nationality as it is about the driver being here long enough to get to know him. For example, Servia is one of ours, and honorary ‘Murican, you might say.

    However you put it, being a glorified arrive and drive spec series for Euromillionaires does little for the fans. This series is a challenge between Tracy, Servia, Power (maybe), Wilson, and Rahal. The rest of the teams and drivers are background noise.

  4. True. I try not to become all xenophobic, but admittedly when all the crap was going down with PT in the off season, and knowing that Tags will be a last minute add on, I was truly worried for the Canadian races.

    I’m not going to write off the “euromillionaires” as background noise just yet, as Doornbos and Jani certainly proved their mettle last season. (and I am going to venture a guess that Montagny will give everyone a run for their money)

    That said, I would prefer that they stick around for more than one season (or 3 races) making Champ Car the destination rather than the stopover.

    It’s not the names of the bums in the driver’s seats that is the main problem imo. It’s the continuity that’s at issue.
    How can one secure sponsorship for a team or driver when the door on the car revolves?
    How can one market the teams/drivers/series when the faces change minute by minute?

    It’s a vicious circle in a game of catch 22.

  5. Dalziel would like to be in champ car again. Its the big leagues. And PCM loves him, they would have liked to keep him. Who wouldn’t, he is a awesome guy and fast. He and Alex were neck and neck almost all of the races besides the one in the rain where they made an awesome tire strategy call. Dalziel will do great where ever he is. The majority of champ car drivers come with money, so Figge is no different. All areas of pcm had a tough rookie season. Engineers and mechanics mostly. Figge did an amazing job with what he had to work with. i guarantee that if you put figge in a car with veteran knowledge behind it he would finish as fast or faster than anyone else. Look at the First qualifying test pcm did when Mario joined them. With Mario’s champ car knowledge provided to pcm, figge had the fastest lap near the end of the first day.

  6. have you talked to Ryan lately? nuff said.

    Of course they had a tough rookie season. They expected it, they planned for it, it was part of the planned learning curve. (I have to disagree with your equality assessment however. Dalziel was clearly ahead of Alex in on track performance)

    Every time I talked to the boys and the team principals at the track, they were happy with and realistic about their progress. Most important though was the comradery betweeen Ryan & Alex and the rest of the team. In fact it had been conveyed to me that sooner rather than later, Alex would likely step into more of an ownership role, allowing for another driver to come in a partner up with Ryan. Which is why the blindsiding of Ryan after Europe was so distasteful. No matter the intention behind the swap (hey anyone with a pulse knows it all comes down to money in the end) it could have been handled with a lot more class.

    To your final point. If having a veteran in the car is so important to the team and Figge’s progress, then why are they testing a rookie this weekend? Why wasn’t Dominguez signed for 08 after Mexico?

    *edit to add* Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Figge. I think he is a great guy. I was just disappointed by the turn of events at the end of last season. Left a bad taste in my mouth ya know?

  7. It’s not the driver’s fault, and it is not the team’s fault. The teams have to pay to run, and they have no sponsorship, therefore the drivers have to pay to run. The question is, how does a series create an environment conducive to sponsorship. Unfortunately, Champ Car’s spec strategy handicaps the series in this regard, and then, when a team can manage sponsorship, most sponsors in this economy are unstable, and elements within the series are so negative that the stable sponsors run away. The only exception to this has been one man – Paul Newman, and his retirement is surely imminent.

    You can’t change the economy, you can’t change the spec for a few years, and you can’t turn the series principles into men that sponsors will want to do business with. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I think the outlook for fans who seek something more is grim.

    The series will continue as a club racing circuit as long as the club members want it to exist.

  8. Smartass.

  9. hehehe… always!

    but seriously… That’s all I could come up with at that moment.

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