The Senna name is rekindled at Williams
AFTER months of speculation, Bruno Senna has been given the nod to drive for the Williams Formula One team in 2012. The 28-year old Brazilian will replace his compatriot Rubens Barrichello and partner fellow South American Pastor Maldonado in the team, that only mustered five points in a dismal 2011 season.
It means that Senna will be driving a Williams Renault car again, the exact combination that his legendary Uncle, Ayrton drove in their fatal partnership at the beginning of the 1994 season. In an interview with BBC Sport, Bruno’s delight was clear to see and the reaction seemed to be positive; “I feel very privileged Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers. The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history.”
Senna made his Grand Prix debut for the underfunded Hispania team at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite struggling in his debut season, Renault saw enough potential to hire him as a third driver last season. Nick Heidfeld’s failure to produce consistent results eventually saw him dumped for Senna, who assumed the Renault drive at last year’s Belgian Grand Prix. He qualified a sensational seventh at Spa, scored two points at Monza and gave Vitaly Petrov something to think about in a car that seemed to be going backwards with alarming rate by the season’s end. This news means that Barrichello’s extraordinary 19-year Formula One career appears to be over. Ever the gentleman, Barrichello congratulated his countryman on replacing him via Twitter.
Sir Frank Williams insisted that Senna will get time to establish himself at his new team, as the team hope to improve signficiantly on a diabolical 2011 campaign which ultimately led to the departures of Barrichello, technical director Sam Michael and director of engineering Patrick Head. Williams told the team’s website; “The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula 1 have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver. We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.”
There is now only one drive left on the 2012 grid, with a driver bringing lots of cash expected to join Pedro de la Rosa at Hispania. Narain Karthikeyan, who drove nine races last season is a strong candidate. This is despite Vitantonio Liuzzi having a contract for 2012. So does fellow Italian Jarno Trulli, although Petrov is believed to have a serious chance of replacing the veteran at the newly named Caterham team.
Bruno Senna now has to prove that Williams big gamble pays off. However, if he does, it will add another glorious chapter to the Senna name in Formula One.