Bruno Senna – will he be in F1 in 2009?

Bruno Senna has been linked with Toro Rosso, BMW and McLaren for 2009

Bruno Senna has been linked with Toro Rosso, BMW and McLaren for 2009

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.

Toro Rosso

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

Bruno Senna in an F1 car would be a magnet for potential sponsors

Bruno Senna in an F1 car would be a magnet for potential sponsors

Advert | Go Ad-free


23 comments on Bruno Senna – will he be in F1 in 2009?

  1. Paige said on 27th August 2008, 0:27

    My evaluation of Senna at this point is that he’s a very quick driver who definitely has skill, but he’s still quite rough around the edges. He has a tendency to get emotional and drive overly aggressively, and this leads to errors and inconsistency that he needs to correct.

    The best next step for him is a testing role. This would really give him the opportunity to calm down his driving a bit and to strengthen his technicality.

    Regarding the other Toro Rosso car, I think it’s going to Sebastien Buemi. Red Bull purchased the team with the intent of using it in their driver development program on the way to the main Red Bull team, and I have no doubt they’ll get their man in the seat, especially since his development likely will have to be hastened as I’m sure Vettel will be moving up the grid rather quickly.

  2. Gman said on 27th August 2008, 4:39

    There is no question in my mind, and I’m sure in most of yours, that Senna will be in an F1 race seat sometime in the next few seasons- the only question is when. While it would be tempting for STR to put him on the grid for 2009, I see him evolving into the sport over the next season or so through a test driver/GP2 role, similar to what Grosjean and Buemi are doing now.

    While I think Senna’s quickiest route in would be with a smaller team such as STR, it would not suprise me to see a big team lock him up in a testing role for next season and have him groomed for a race seat in a year or two. While the pluses are obvious for Ferrari, Williams(dose anyone think he’d go there after the post-accident fallout?)and McLaren, just imagine how much BMW, Toyota and Honda would love to have the Senna name on their product. I’ve talked before on here about Alonso being a one-year PR booster for Honda if they can get him- If Brawn and company can get Bruno aboard, they’d have the promotional opportunity of a lifetime!

  3. peterg said on 27th August 2008, 8:29

    Let’s not kid ourselves, if he gets a ride at STR, a large part of the attraction will be the sponsors he brings with him.

  4. Jonesracing82 said on 27th August 2008, 8:58

    Bruno may not have raced all that much but think back to another driver who made his debut in ’01 with only 23 car races to his name and he had a probationary license for the 1st 4 races to prove himself!
    his name starts with “Kimi”.
    Bruno did win at Monaco and Silverstone in the wet!
    Buemi is only 19 and hasnt done all that much in GP2 this year so if it’s too soon for anyone it’s Buemi.
    watch this space i say……

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2008, 9:06

    Here’s a profile of Sebastien Buemi that went on the site today.

  6. Steven Roy said on 27th August 2008, 12:05

    Kimi’s situation is different because he did a lot of karting then 23 car races. Bruno missed 10 years of karting.

    If he finishes second(or better) in this year’s GP2 championship there is no sense in him doing that championship again.

    Williams have run Ayrton Senna Foundation logos on all their cars since Ayrton’s death so I am sure any fallout was sorted years ago. Look at the front wing of any Williams and you will see th double S logo somewhere.

    The one reason I can’t see Bruno becoming a test driver is that there is so little testing mileage done these days. At one time when McNish and Coulthard were testing for McLaren and Williams there were all sorts of programs running so they could gain experience. DC spent months driving round Silverstone testing Williams CVT system until it was just about ready to race and then the FIA decided to ban it after they had invested a lot of time, money and effort into it.

  7. Arake said on 27th August 2008, 13:05

    I think STR is the best choice for him. Not much pressure for results is a good way to start in F1.

  8. Well, his chances in team Sebastian look limited. Predict a Sato/Buemi lineup – Buemi for the Red Bull backing and potential, Sato for the money, and an easy transfer to a Honda sister team. A testing contract with MacMerc? Well, with Ron Dennis publicly slating this year’s GP2 talent, his chances are getting slimmer by the team.. BMW?? Random speculation. He should wait a year and comprehensively wrap up the GP2 title. Then and only then may he be in with a chance. But Buemi looks by far the brightest talent in GP2, with Grosjean perhaps second. Senna needs to get his lean on, or he’ll be slated as only getting to where he is by his name..

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.