Getting to know Bertrand Baguette

Posted by Iannucci | 5/18/2010 | , , | 6 comments »
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Like many IndyCar fans the first time I ever heard Bertrand Baguette’s name was when it was preceded by the phrase “Conquest Racing announced...", and I would bet I’m not alone in admitting my first reaction was wondering who this probable ride-buyer was. It seems there are always a few drivers who pop up out of nowhere (or at least nowhere to American race fans) and even though our buddy Declan had some kind words about him Baguette seemed no different.

But after looking a little further into his bio I can assure you this Baguette fellow demands a bit more attention than he has received. Formula Renault 3.5 is second only to GP2 as a feeder series for Formula One, and last year the now 24-year-old utterly dominated in Formula Renault 3.5 to the tune of 5 wins and 10 podiums in 17 races. Note that this was a season in which current F1 driver Jaime Alguesari (Scuderia Torro Rosso) finished 5th in the championship.

Put this in IndyCar terms: this is a series Will Power finished 7th in 2005, and it's generally accepted that Will Power is a bit North of "OK" as a driver. Baguette is not just another guy who showed up wanting to play race car driver – he's already proven to be one. So let’s find out a little more about about Belgium’s finest export to America since Jean Claude Van Damme.

MNII: After a handful of races, what's your first impression of IndyCar fans and racing here in America?

BB: I really like the atmosphere here. The IZOD IndyCar Series fans are very close to the drivers which I think is really important for the sport.

MNII: How would you describe your first oval race at Kansas? Did you put your left foot on top of your right foot?

BB: Ahaha, kind of, yes. It's a very strange feeling, especially qualifications. You're flat out the whole time and the only thing you can really do is work with your tools to try and go a bit faster. When you start the race it's a completely different story. During the race you are running with other cars which means dirty air. The car starts to move a lot and that's when it becomes interesting. You really have to work with your tools and on your lines to continue taking all of the corners flat.

MNII: Since you’re Belgian: Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin?

BB: It's not easy to answer. They're both very good players and we're really proud of them in Belgium. Since Henin just went back to number one, I would have to say her.

MNII: You raced briefly against Mario Romancini in Formula Renault in 2008 but now he's your teammate. Do you guys get along off the track or are you just teammates?

BB: Mario is a great guy and we get along well on and off track. We're both rookies so we are working together to learn everything and give the teams the best data and feedback as possible.

MNII: Mario has raced on many of these tracks already, albeit in an Indy Lights car. Has he offered any helpful advice to you this year, or has driving the IndyCar been a learning experience for both of you?

BB: Mario was able to give me a few tips concerning the basics of driving on oval, but driving the IZOD IndyCar Series car has been a new experience for both of us.

MNII: Having driven cars in F1, Formula Renault, and Superleague your in a unique position to answer this question: how does the current IndyCar compare?

BB: All of the cars are very different and require different skills. All I can say is that the IZOD IndyCar Series car is really fun to drive on ovals.

MNII: As an accomplished driver who's had no prior experience driving in this series - much less on ovals - what's your goal for this year? A podium? A top 10? Just finishing every race?

BB: Honestly when you're racing you're racing to win, nothing else. I'm not used to being in the position I am now, but the team and I are doing everything we can to bring the No. 36 car to the top of the rankings. I know that this year will be really difficult and that there is a lot to do, but if we can get a top 5 finish this year I will be very happy.

MNII: In your bio on it says "If a movie was made of Baguette’s life, he says he would like Nicolas Cage to play the role." Considering that Cage has played psychos, drunks and vampires, umm, well, why would you want him to play you?

BB: I don't know really, I think he's a really good actor and I like his films so I said Nicolas Cage.

Ed. Note: Upon further review, any possibility of a racing movie involving Nic Cage needs to be pursued with the utmost vigor, if only for the inevitable "Cage eats a spark plug" scene. Seriously, sign me up for that. It can't possibly be any worse than "Driven".

MNII: Important question for every driver: Do you have a nickname?

BB: Not really, in Belgium people that know me well call me Ber or Beber but that's not really related with racing. I am open to any suggestions if you have one.

MNII: Last question, again related to Belgium: Jean Claude Van Damme - National treasure or embarrassment of the nation?

BB: National treasure for sure. I like Van Damme a lot especially the way he speaks. :-)

Agreed. Van Damme speaks with roundhouse kicks to the face better than any actor ever. Thanks to Bertrand for sharing, as well as to Conquest Racing PR guru Lauren Boyd for facilitating the chit chat.

Photo: TrackSide Online


  1. JP // May 18, 2010 3:57 PM  

    Darn it Jeff, I am in the beginning phases of planning a European vacation next year and I have some sort of begrudging implicit approval for it to include an F1 event from the Mrs. You completely missed the chance to ask where the best place view a race at Spa was....

  2. Declan // May 18, 2010 4:55 PM  

    Its Eau Rouge! Are you nuts! :)

  3. JP // May 19, 2010 4:12 PM  

    Declan - not nuts, just on a budget. More specifically where in the Bronze General Admission areas???

  4. Leigh O'Gorman // May 19, 2010 4:21 PM  

    Blanchimont is pretty sweet too Dec

  5. JP // May 20, 2010 5:17 AM  


  6. Leigh O'Gorman // May 20, 2010 1:39 PM  

    @ JP,
    There are bronze sections on the Kemmel straight just after Eau Rouge and I think there is one on Blanchimont as well, but I'm not sure if that's changed in recent years.

    I think Pouhon has a bronze section too.