Bruno Senna has been linked to at least three different F1 teams for the 2009 season including Scuderia Toro Rosso, BMW and McLaren.
The latter is the team his uncle Ayrton Senna won all three of his world championships for. Will Bruno Senna be the next GP2 driver to break into F1? Will he get a full race seat or a testing role?
Bruno Senna’s race weekend at Valencia went poorly – he failed to score a single point while GP2 title rival Giorgio Pantano extended his lead. But the Brazilian driver is still being linked with Formula 1 for 2009.
Even if he doesn’t beat Pantano to the title, finishing runner-up will be a major boost for Senna’s credentials. Pantano has a huge amount of experience in the sub-F1 tier – this is his fourth year in GP2, following three in its predecessor, Formula 3000.
Here are the three different directions rumours have suggested Senna’s career path might take.
As Toro Rosso part-owner Gerhard Berger has taken an interest in the young Senna’s career (Berger having been Ayrton’s team mate from 1990-1992), Bruno has inevitably been linked with a drive at Toro Rosso in the future.
With Sebastian Vettel leaving the team for Red Bull in 2009 everything seems to fit together nicely.
But the team are looking at other drivers including Sebastien Buemi, the Red Bull test driver who has won twice in GP2 this year. Toro Rosso are part owned by Red Bull and Berger, so it could be that Buemi is Red Bull’s choice of driver and Berger wants Senna in the car.
Senna made his first appearance in car racing in the Formula BMW championship in 2004. He has been linked to a testing seat at the team for 2009.
But he played down the rumours over the Valencian Grand Prix weekend, saying:
Yeah, I’ve been hearing that story as well… oh dear. No, it’s all lies. All b*******.
Lewis Hamilton’s ethnicity made his debut for McLaren last year a source of huge public interest. But surely even that would be dwarfed by the signing of Bruno Senna – nephew of surely the most famous F1 driver ever, who won the 1988, 1990 and 1991 world championships with the team?
The chances of that happening seem remote but are worth keeping an eye on. Senna recently signed a sponsorship deal with Hilton, one of McLaren’s major sponsors. Another McLaren backer, Santander, features on his GP2 car.
Rumours have suggested he might spend a year testing with the team in 2009 before being promoted to a race seat in 2010. That would fit in with McLaren’s present driver contracts – Hamilton signed up until 2012, but Kovalainen only getting a one-year extension for 2009 a few weeks ago.
Despite the high-profile arrival of Hamilton, McLaren tend not to put rookies in their cars all that often. The last time it happened before 2007 was 1995, with Jan Magnussen, and that was a one-off substitution.
So don’t bet the farm on it just yet. But don’t underestimate the gigantic PR vale for whoever does sign up Senna.
More on Bruno Senna
More on the 2009 F1 season