Part two of our series on Champ Car drivers in F1 includes a look at the last driver to make the switch – Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais.
Plus former Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta and the last American to finish on the podium in the United States Grand Prix, Eddie Cheever.
Unable to get a seat in Formula One after winning the 2002 Formula 3000 championship, Bourdais turned to racing in America.
He qualified on pole position for his first two Champ Car races and won at his fourth attempt. He ended the year fourth in the championship but made the next four seasons his own, winning the title each time, although it was against a field of decreasing strength as the series began to collapse.
He grabbed the opportunity to drive for Toro Rosso this year and scored two points on his debut at Melbourne.
Read more about Sebastien Bourdais: Sebastien Bourdais biography
It fell to Gary Brabham to try to qualify one of the most hopeless entrants ever seen in Formula One – the dismal Life entry of 1990 with its W12 engine. His F1 career thus lists a miserable pair of DNPQs as the car struggled to complete a lap at Pheonix and Interlagos, let alone set a time fast enough to pre-qualify.
Champ Car also yielded just two starts for the son of three-times champion Jack Brabham.
Read more about Gary Brabham: Gary Brabham biography
Eddie Cheever had a long F1 career spanning 1978 to 1989 although little of it was spent in competitive machinery. Not always able to find an F1 seat he made his first Champ Car start in 1986, later defected to the Indy Racing League and only recently hung up his helmet.
After toiling away in various uncompetitive cars Cheever got his break at Renault alongside Alain Prost in 1983. But he was outclassed by his team mate and failed to win a race while Prost was narrowly pipped to the title. Two miserable years at Alfa Romeo followed which drove him to make his first start in IndyCar.
He returned to F1 via the World Sportscar Championship to drive for Arrows alongside Derek Warwick. He got on the podium for one last time at the race that was not only his home country of America, but his home town, Pheonix. He then switched back to Champ Cars but was one of the first to defect to the offshoot IndyCar series when the championship began its destructive split.
Swiss driver Chiesa only started three races for the very slow Fondmetal team in 1992, and the following year made his single appearance in Champ Car.
Cogan’s two attempts to qualify for F1 races in 1980 and 1981 were met with failure. He started 106 Champ Car races and scored his sole victory at the season opener at Pheonix in 1980.
Cristiano da Matta
Brazilian da Matta came over to Europe to race in Formula Three and Formula 3000 but switched to Indy Lights in 1997. Two years later he entered Champ Car with Newman-Haas and clinched the 2002 championship with seven victories.
That prompted a move to F1 with Toyota (whose engines he’d used in Champ Car) but it bore little, the team releasing him halfway through his second season. He returned to Champ Car in 2005 but the following year he struck a deer during testing and suffered severe head injuries. After a long convalescence he returned to racing this year in closed cockpit sports cars.
Crawford drove for Lotus twice in 1975 before becoming a regular entrant in the Indianapolis 500. His best Champ Car finish came at Long Beach where he was fourth in 1984 and 1985.
Daly drove for several lowly F1 teams and famously caused a first-lap pile-up at Monaco by flying through the air and landing on team mate Jean-Pierre Jarier. More bad luck followed at Monaco two years later when he was poised to inherit victory for Williams until his gearbox died.
He left F1 at the end of the year and spent seven seasons in Champ Car. He finished in the top three once, at Milwaukee in 1987, and is now a commentator. He has also written a book, “Race to Win”, which will be reviewed here soon.
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