2009 F1 driver rumours: Honda consider Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld

Bruno Senna has been linked to Honda, who won 32 F1 races with Ayrton Senna

Bruno Senna has been linked to Honda, who won 32 F1 races with Ayrton Senna

Fernando Alonso’s place on the grid is central to the 2009 F1 driver market: he is thought likely to stay at Renault, or switch to BMW or Honda.

New rumours have arisen suggesting Honda may have given up on acquiring Alonso’s services, but are looking at replacing Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button – or both – with Nick Heidfeld or Bruno Senna. What should we make of these rumours?

Nick Heidfeld to Honda

Rumour rating:

Honda’s Nick Fry has admitted “I’ve already spoken with Nick, and more than just saying ??hello’.” Presumably that means he has spoken to Nick Heidfeld, rather than himself in the mirror.

The idea of Heidfeld joining Honda has an un-likeliness to it which I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the thought of him and Jenson Button teaming up in some unholy all-bearded line-up.

Seriously, Heidfeld did an excellent job at BMW last year. This year, after a shaky start, he’s consistently brought the car home (to a record-breaking extent) and is scoring points regularly. This rumour only make sense to me if BMW are bringing Alonso on board. Even then, I can’t see what Heidfeld brings to Honda that Barrichello or Button lack, or why BMW should want to drop him.

Bruno Senna to Honda

Rumour rating:

While Heidfeld to Honda doesn’t sound quite right to me, Bruno Senna and Honda make a lot of sense. His uncle Ayrton Senna had a deep and strong relationship with the Japanese concern in its F1 role as engine manufacturer (sorry to keep bringing up Ayrton in the context of Bruno but his legacy inevitably has an important bearing).

Ayrton won 32 of his 41 F1 victories with Honda while at Lotus and McLaren. He gave impetus to the development of their engine, particularly so in 1991 when a late push by the manufacturer helped him retain his championship. He was hugely popular in Japan and helped Honda develop road cars like the NSX.

Not being at the sharp end of F1 at the moment (and that’s putting it kindly), Honda can arguably afford a gamble on a rookie. Though it would be particularly galling for their test driver Mike Conway, who beat Bruno to the 2006 British F3 crown.

Bruno Senna has admitted he’s talking to teams about a race seat for next year:

We have been speaking with quite a few teams and there is great interest from a few of them. So there are a few opportunities as a race driver, a few as a test driver. But there is a lot of competition and I need to come ahead of the competition right now on the negotiations and see if I can get a race drive.

At first he was being linked with Toro Rosso via Gerhard Berger. But they seem to be leaning towards Senna’s GP2 rival Sebastien Buemi – whether on merit alone or because Buemi is a Red Bull test driver.

If Senna didn’t get a race seat for next year, his options might include testing for a year (though that doesn’t tend to involve much mileage these days) or returning to GP2. But, having been runner-up this year, he would simply have to deliver the title and with a truck-load of wins if he went back for a third season.

F1 2009 season
F1 2009 drivers and teams

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27 comments on 2009 F1 driver rumours: Honda consider Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld

  1. Gman said on 2nd October 2008, 1:21

    As long as no one finishes before me, this is the first time I’ve gotten the first post. Sweet!

    I was a bit suprised to hear about the Heidfeld to Honda rumours- he is a very good driver, but I can’t see what he would bring to the team that would be such a huge improvement over their current lineup. My one thought is that perhaps Rubens is thinking about following DC into retirement, but he’s stated many times that he wants to race next season.

    The Senna name with Honda is a major factor, as it would make them a team to watch in soem respect, simply because tens of millions of fans worldwide will wind up watchign races and rooting for the team because of the Senna name. I thought perhaps he would do another year in GP2, but at this rate anything can happen.

  2. Nick said on 2nd October 2008, 4:41

    Barrichello needs to hang it up.

  3. Shahriar said on 2nd October 2008, 5:14

    and i thought honda will take alonso… kheeeekz

  4. Sush said on 2nd October 2008, 7:30

    Sebastien Buemi – whether on merit alone or because Buemi is a Red Bull test driver

    maybe Torro Rosso really like his first name?

  5. Jonesracing82 said on 2nd October 2008, 8:36

    i’d like to see Bruno at str or even maybe honda, as there’ll b no expectation on results!
    he could also maybe take a test drive, and race GP2 at same time!
    who knows!

  6. I agree with you Keith about Conway, He is a much better driver than Senna. He was unfortunate to be in a team like Trident and even though he managed to win a race in Monaco!B.Senna was in a superior car he blew away his chances to win the title and eventually lost by an ex-f1 driver with a worse car(just look where Pantano’s teamate is in the table)
    But , Honda will be very unfair if they ‘fire’ Button .He is avery good and experienced driver ,who stayed loyal to his team in the most difficult moments.
    As for Barrichelo, the best ,I think would be to step aside on his own with no pressure like D.Coulthard

    My ideal line -up for Honda would be Button-Conway.I understand that two british drivers is out of the question ,but with no sponsors to put pressure for their own driver(Santander–>Alonso, BMW–>German driver etc) and considering the strong position of Honda in UK car market it’s not impossible.

    Also T.Sato really is a good option for Honda -economically for sure, about his talent I can’t be sure ,he is out of F1 for a long time.

  7. Despite the fact that both Button and Barrichello are very capable and experienced drivers, it might be a good thing for Honda to drop both of them. If not for 2009, then maybe so for 2010.

    Having 2 new drivers brings fresh faces and new ideas. A new generation, if you will. That could be what Honda needs. And bringing in an experienced new man like Heidfeld (or Sato, or Davidson, for that matter) together with a rookie like Senna or Conway, could prove to be a smart move.

    Should Honda do so, we will likely have seen the last of Barrichello, but of Button, too. I mean, who would want Mr. Contract Breaker after all his shenanigans with Williams?

    • Mouse_Nightshirt said on 21st October 2009, 18:51

      Most teams, now that he’s world champion really.

      I know I’m being cheeky by replying a year after the original post ;)

  8. Jonesracing82 said on 2nd October 2008, 10:45

    at ‘eddie irvine’
    Honda wont hire Sato, if they thought he was any good they woudlnt have sacked him in the 1st place

  9. ajokay said on 2nd October 2008, 10:45

    I still think Button should have been in the number 23 McLaren this season.

    I’d like to see Senna in Rubens’ Honda next year. It would be ever so poetic, seeing as Barrichello was Ayrton’s protage, and died only 3 races into Ruben’s F1 career. Seems fitting for Bruno to take over from him at the other end.

  10. Senna must serve another season in GP2 , prove himself by WINNING the title , THEN he will be ready for an F1 drive. Considering how much the thought of the Senna name back on the F1 grid appeals to millions of fans worldwide , it would be inappropriate if he got into F1 and turned out into anything of a mediocre driver or less. Best he never get into F1 under such conditions. So Honda I think need to at least change one driver , unfortunately but logically has to be Rubens . Who to replace him ? Michael Schumacher , of course …… just kidding ! What about Pantano ?

  11. @ ajokay

    Barrichello was Ayrton’s protage, and died only 3 races into Ruben’s F1 career. Seems fitting for Bruno to take over from him at the other end.

    Eh, Rubens debuted in 1993, so had 18 races under his belt come San Marino ’94.

  12. diseased rat said on 2nd October 2008, 11:10

    The faster we can get Senna in F1 the better. He will almost certainly rise to the challenge, I really don’t see him having a season like Piquet has done for Renault. If he does then so be it, it’s preferable to the alternative.

    Another year in GP2 would be a total waste of his time, exclude a new driver from coming into GP2, and potentially damage Senna’s F1 chances further if he ended up having another non-championship winning season there.

  13. ajokay said on 2nd October 2008, 11:14

    @ Lustigson

    Eh, Rubens debuted in 1993, so had 18 races under his belt come San Marino ‘94.

    He did? My bad, i thought he started with Jordan in ’94.

  14. Nick Fry made a reference to the “Senna” Name and Senna Genes in that story. And it seems so true None of the posters have thought implications of second part.

    Nick Heidfeld – We have interesting situation if Nick moves to Honda and Alonso stays put at Renault. Who would be second BMW driver?

    Ron Dennis in new millenium has been a major PR failure, but he made valid point last year and even this year. There is nothing on Current GP2 that makes you stand up and take notice.

    With all due respects Bruno shouldn’t be hired on basis of his marketeability. As much as I don’t like Hamilton attitude wise, there is no denying that he has raised the bar for the rookies. Vettels showing has increased the team owners expectation. And Bruno simply doesn’t meet those needs. Unless he comes with Stunner of a GP2 season,displaying speed, consistency and results, I wouldn’t hire him as a team owner.

    Senna name can get him seat, but not the success. And it would be a let down if Bruno ends up another Ralf Schumacher.

    Second Part if Nick Heidfeld is indeed poached by Honda, he would be good choice to Build the Honda team and take it to next level. But should it be Button or Barichello to make exit is open for debate. Button may have Brit backers, but to be honest, he too has not been a big revelation, doesn’t even get benefit of doubt like Webber, who is always at wrong place at wrong time. At least with Webber you can see him getting a unrealiable car in 5th-6th position only to find car failing before race end.Thus keeping his reputation in Market as “Good driver, get more out than possible from his car, but just unlucky” . Nobody in all honesty can say those things about Button.
    So Nick and either of Button or Barichello would be good choice.
    But given the fact that Honda has become a British team with all Key team management roles taken by Brits, I suspect Rubens will have to leave, and given that the person who was instrumental in luring Rubens to Honda has been marginalized and forced out of team by Nick Fry, I am sure Rubens will get the axe.

    Returning to BMW – One reason why Alonso shouldn’t go there is, with all respect for capabilities of Dr Theissen. He is equally a control freak as Ron Dennis and Alonso, who likes that his views being taken overboard appreciated, and given “credit” won’t find that happen at BMW, like it didn’t happen at McLaren. So its good for him to stick with Renault and they definitely have potential to work together to return to their glory days


  15. elton said on 2nd October 2008, 13:21

    Conway is a crap. He can stay for 10 years at GP2 that will not win the championship!

    Just give to Senna all Conway years of experience.. than you can tell me who is the best.

    Senna doen´t need that. He oversubscribed twice!

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