As Sébastien Bourdais exits the pits with a boot full of throttle, his IndyCar’s V6 barks with volume that can wake the dead, spins those massive rear slicks, and fires him onto the daunting street course that offers minimal room for error. Bourdais is a clever man, and thanks to this educational footage, we get to witness a seasoned veteran driving around the unforgiving Long Beach.
As he enters Turn 1, observe the armful of lock he uses to stretch those front tires and pitch the rear in slightly. Early braking, short shifting, and very gentle steering inputs get him through the next few corners. By the time he’s braking into Turn 9, his gentle inputs at speed have been enough to get the tires up to temperature—and he’s leaving his braking pretty late (0:57).
With the tires warm and the cornering speeds increased, the way with which he places the car inches from the wall is mesmerizing. Note the distance between his right tire and the concrete barrier lining Turn 8 (1:57). You couldn’t fit a can of beans between the two, and yet, his calm steering inputs suggest he’s not intimidated by the unyielding wall in the slightest. It might seem like an unnecessary risk, but on a narrow street course like Long Beach, getting a few inches within the barrier can yield a few hundredths, which can amount to significant margin over the course of a lap.
His third and final lap shows Bourdais countersteering with precision, fluidity, and speed. It’s as tidy as his warm-up laps, but with a little more movement at the wheel and a hint of aggression — and this progression in pace demonstrates how the champion approaches finding speed in a confident, forceful style tempered by cautiousness. As there’s plenty of solid objects just beyond track limits, that’s a wise way to practice.