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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Sebastien Bourdais said Friday that Dragon Racing and sponsor True Car "made the tough decision to go a different way" in replacing teammate Katherine Legge this week, but said "at some point you've got to earn" the job.
Dragon announced the signing of 22-year-old Sebastian Saavedra as Legge's replacement on Tuesday.
Legge, 32, joined Jay Penske's team last year as part of a multiyear deal funded by True Car's "Women Empowered" program that fields females in multiple race regimens.
She posted an average finish of 19.4 in 10 races this past season as the team struggled to field cars while dealing with an ill-fated engine agreement with Lotus. Legge's best finish was ninth at the season-ending race at Fontana.
Bourdais said that while he didn't involve himself in personnel matters he "knew the team's position."
"She's done what she could and then the performance in Fontana was just weak and the team just made the tough decision to go a different way -- and the sponsor," Bourdais said. "Not my decision. For sure, at some point you've got to earn it. It's a tough sport, like any professional sport. You have a lot of competition. I've read some comments ... you shouldn't get an opportunity because of your gender. You should get an opportunity because you deserve it and on your talent. It's the way sport is, it's the way it should be. Simona [de Silvestro] deserves that ride at KV [Racing]. There's nothing against females in the sport. It's a tough sport for everybody."
Legge, in an email distributed to media, has threatened legal action and claimed she is still the rightful driver of the car.