CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 2

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Sebastien Bourdais, Felipe Massa, Melbourne, 2008, 470150

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.

Sebastien Bourdais

Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson, Mexico City, Champ Car World Series, 2006, 470313

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

Gary Brabham

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

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.

Andrea Chiesa

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.

Kevin Cogan

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

Cristiano da Matta, Champ Car World Series, Long Beach, 2005, 470313

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.

Jim Crawford

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.

Derek Daly

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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7 comments on CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 2

  1. looking at that Matta’s photo, can you imagine F1 car with ad for “Real Pit BBQ” featuring so prominently on the car :-)

  2. verasaki said on 1st June 2008, 16:36

    yeah, that must have been de matta’s last year. by then champ car was a mere shadow of what it had been in the ’90’s. i think there was one team running with no sponsorship. the 500 always drew some odd sponsorship because for quite a few entrants it was the only race they ran in the season.

    odd though that david brabham never ran cart.

  3. Sonny’s BBQ is truck stop food. (Just saying.)

    I actually believed there was more trouble in Indy than ChampCar because they have blank liveries every year, but go figure…

    Among the odd liveries they’ve had was the “Goodbye Canada” that Players put on Paul Tracy’s car when tobacco ads were banned, or the current “Hole in the Wall Camps” that Graham Rahal runs. (They are a Paul Newman charity, so to me it’s about the same as running unsponsored.)

  4. Steven Roy said on 1st June 2008, 22:16

    I am amazed that there are so many drivers who have driven in both championships. It is amazing how many of them I had forgotten about ever being involved in Champ Car

  5. Scootin159 said on 2nd June 2008, 16:10

    Derek Daly may “be” a commentator, but he’s probably the worst commentator I’ve ever heard. SPEED used him to help cover the last few USGP’s, and both times public outcry was pretty extensive. He took quite the beating not only in the SPEED online forums, but actually was physically shoved away by Kimi Raikkonen (apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘no’). Several other drivers went to great lengths to avoid his presence.

    Not only is he often unnecessarily rude to the drivers, frequently inappropriate in his comments, and unaware of current events… he’s often just flat out wrong. There were several occasions where his comments were immediately followed by a (major) correction from the rest of the commentary staff.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2008, 16:22

    I’ve never actually heard him commentate. Not a fan then?

  7. David said on 25th July 2009, 17:46

    CART was a great series before the IRL was created. It was much better racing than F1 with street courses, road courses, small oval races and super speedways. The ONLY edge the IRL had was the Indy 500 race. The IRL also ruined the Indy 500 as it became just another IRL race. It lost just about all of it’s tradition

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