|21. Bruno Senna – HRT Cosworth
The long-awaited return of the Senna name to Formula 1 is certainly one of the talking points of the 2010 season for the F1 fans – especially the die-hard ones in Brazil. The nephew to the late three-time champion is a very promising driver who indoubtedly deserves his spot on the F1 grid.
Expecting him to match the debut feats of his uncle in the 1984 Toleman would be well wide of the mark. This year, it’s going to be almost impossible for him to do much other than make up the numbers in the (thus-far) untested car and either hope to impress the bigger teams or stay with Hispania Racing while it grows.
Senna’s seat looked in doubt for awhile during the lead-up to the new management’s buy-out of the squad from its original Campos guise, and rumours were afoot that he may be ditched in favour of a driver with a bigger sponsorship portfolio.
In spite of the obstacles he faces, Bruno has the talent and the will to make the best of the situation he has been presented, and one hopes that will be enough to keep him in F1 for longer still.
Bruno’s reputation was broadcast very early in his life, with his uncle Ayrton praising the then-10-year-old’s speed at the wheel of a go-kart.
But Ayrton’s tragic death in 1994 temporarily put paid to the younger Senna’s racing ambitions, with the grief-stricken family understandably unwilling to risk another Senna involved in the dangers of motorsport.
A full decade later, Bruno finally made his much-anticipated return to the track, joining the Formula BMW UK championship for a few races at the end of the 2004 season. Having barely competed in 10 years and with a massive media spotlight now focused on him, he was justifiably all over the shop – but despite the immediate lack of finesse on the track, his innate talent was still evident to all.
He stepped straight into the British F3 competition the next year and did a creditable job in the Kimi Raikkonen-owned team, placing 5th in the championship and scoring one win.
Big things were expected the next year, but his tilt at the 2006 F3 title took a hit with a massive accident at Snetterton and his team-mate took the championship spoils instead.
The story seemed to repeat itself in GP2, where Senna started strongly with a race win, only to watch his title hopes fade in the second half of the 2007 season.
The Honda F1 team saw his potential and he was drafted into a three-day test drive with the team in November 2008, to be tested as a potential replacement for Rubens Barrichello.
With F1 now beckoning, the rug was cruelly pulled out from under his feet at the eleventh hour when Honda announced its withdrawal from F1, and its successor team Brawn GP opted to stick with Barrichello’s experience despite being impressed with Bruno’s pace – perhaps this was a wise decision given the limited pre-season preparation.
- The return of the Senna name to F1.
- He’s adapted surprisingly well given the enormous amount of pressure being placed on him given his family heritage.
- He’s yet to win a junior or major formula championship during his progression to F1, and many would consider him as still needing to develop into an all-round driver.
What defines success in 2010?
- Minimise errors that have previously blighted his performance.
- Produce enough underdog performances to stay in the game and prolong his career.
[Images via StatsF1]