Bruno Senna, Williams, 2012

Bruno Senna secures Williams drive for 2012

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bruno Senna, Williams, 2012
Bruno Senna joins Williams for 2012

Bruno Senna has secured one of the two remaining seats in F1 for 2012.

Senna will take Rubens Barrichello’s place at Williams.

He said: “I feel very privileged that 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.

“The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season.”

Senna made his F1 debut with HRT in 2010 and started eight races for Renault last year. Williams will use Renault engines once more this year.

The move is rich in symbolism. Ayrton Senna, Bruno’s uncle, was in his third race for Williams-Renault when he lost his life in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Senna added: “It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton. Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too.

“I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today. I am very proud to be Brazilian and more motivated than ever to demonstrate what I can do. Ever since I first sat in a go-kart I never wanted to do anything else.”

Frank Williams said: “Bruno only started racing when he was 20 years old but quickly proved his talent in F3 and GP2.

“In a tightly fought 2008 GP2 season, Bruno finished second in the championship with notable victories in Monaco and Silverstone, the latter in the wet. The circumstances of Bruno?s two seasons in Formula One 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.”

Barrichello, who will lose his place at the team to Senna, was the most successful Brazilian drivers in the years following Ayrton’s death, and wore a helmet in the style of his late idol’s in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The only remaining seat left for the 2012 season is alongside Pedro de la Rosa at HRT.

See the updated list of 2012 F1 drivers and teams.

2012 F1 season

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Image ?? Williams/LAT

226 comments on “Bruno Senna secures Williams drive for 2012”

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  1. “Senna, Williams-Renault”


    1. Doubly so if he keeps that helmet and the team retains their retro livery.

      1. If you look at him in this picture (via @willbuxton) in profile with the light shining on his face like that. Now imagine that in the Williams-Renault garage or in the car. Spooky indeed.

    2. Except this time it’s a paying Senna rather than one worth actually paying.

    3. Don’t worry. His real name is not Senna.

      1. Wrong, his name is Bruno Senna Lalli.

        Latin American naming conventions give you the name of your mother and your father.

        They can be used however they wish. It’s unmistakable that he is a decedent of the Senna line.

        1. “Latin-american naming conventions?” So now we throw CEOs from Mexico City, german descents in southern Brazil and quechua natives in Bolivia all in the same bucket?
          Face it, the guy followed the near-worldwide sexist rule of naming a child after his father’s family, and shove his uncle’s surname (which has his mother’s) because we wanted people and sponsors alike to relate him to the late Senna.


            Mothers name first, fathers second. Sting wasn’t born sting, he can call himself what he wants. Lucky him!

          2. Actually, the Spanish ex Prime Minister (Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero), takes his second surname (his mother’s surname) as his main surname rather than his father’s surname(Rodriguez).

          3. … just as Ayrton did. Senna was his mother’s name too.

      2. Dont worry Ayrton Senna is actually Ayrton Silva! I’m sick and tired of this name crap.

    4. OMG!! Hopefully Williams will have a top 5 car!!

  2. Worst kept secret ever!

  3. This is a shame, not just for Rubens (who unless he lands the HRT seat, didn’t get the proper send off he deserves) but for Adrian Sutil. Yes, he only has himself to blame for what happened but in the latter half of 2011 he proved himself to be a quality driver who is worthy of a seat in one of the top teams, never mind the lower midfield. Then there’s the likes of Alguersuari and Buemi, both of whom I feel are better than Senna but are without a seat.

    1. The problem with the candidates you’ve mentioned is that they’ve all had a fair shot at F1 in semi decenty cars and ultimately shown that they’re not worth the trouble. Bruno is really yet to have that.

      1. Well, personally I think all those candidates @dan-thorn mentions really are better drivers than Bruno, @steph!

        But I guess both the team and Bruno will have a point to prove in the coming season, so let’s hope both make the most of it. At least they should have a clear target of finishing higher up the order!

        1. Buemi and Alg basically battled it out to see who was acceptably average with only Buemi winning in my mind due to more bad luck and greater consistency. I could speak at length about how little Sutil’s achieved in five years in F1 but the silence of my keyboard when trying to list what he’s done says it all :P

          Bruno did a solid job in the HRT which was by far the worst car on the grid, came in the Renault with no experience and outqualified Vitaly. Sure, he’s been inconsistent but he’s had nowhere near as much time as those three and might have as much talent. I’m glad he’s getting a chance because of his lack of experience. Williams should have a superstar to bring them back but they’re not so they may as well go for a rookie who might be good than one of the three who have shown to be mediocre a lot of the time. I’m sorry if that’s harsh on them but they’ve had their chance and F1 and done very little. At the very least F1 should have some fresh blood.

          1. I’ll also add that I believe (not exactly sure why) Williams when they say that based on their assessment of Senna that he came off very well. I wish I had sources, but I think I remember hearing good things from his engineers- either at Renault or HRT- who, having proper telemetry access, are best qualified to judge a driver’s pace.

            Also, about his evaluation, analysing him on-track sounds like he had a private test of some kind. I wonder if that would have been compared to their existing times or whether they tested a couple of drivers, and what class of car was driven.

          2. I liked him as a GP2 driver and his season with HRT was OK.

          3. Adrian did a solid job in the Spyker, which was by far the worst car on the grid. Overall I think he has done a good job in his four years at Force India. What kind of performances did you expect? Did you expect him to win a race or so in the fifth-fastest car at best?

          4. Interesting. I really think ALG has performed well and shown future promise too. I don’t think Bruno has actually badly considering but if both him and Alg were in the same car I would be very surprised to see Bruno come out on top. In fact, I think most of us would bet for Alguersuari.

      2. @Steph I ain’t sure about Buemi but I believe Sutil has proved that he belongs to ‘tier 2’ of F1 drivers. Not exactly a superstar like Alonso, sometimes inconsistent but mostly a decent, solid, pretty strong driver just like Kovalainen, Webber, Glock, Barrichello or Fisichella. Sutil has outperformed most of his team mates so far and his performances were pretty equal to Fisichella’s when both were team mates.

        OK, Barrichello is really ‘old’ and should probably retire but Sutil is just 29. Should every F1 driver who has spent 5/4/3 years in F1 and hasn’t become a superstar leave and give way to new guys? I don’t think so. If that was the case, I believe we wouldn’t see Button in F1 these days.

        1. Outperformed most of his team mates? I have to disagree. Fisi was his longest serving team mate irrc and was at the end of his career but generally Fisi still beat Sutil. The other two were Liuzzi and a rookie who immediately was more impressive, is already highly rated and just going to get better and beat Sutil more often. Sutil’s had more than enough time to show he can achieve something or deliver but he just hasn’t got it. I don’t really agree with your tier 2 assessment either but I can see where you’re coming from :):P

          As for your final paragraph no, but they have to show quickly that they have something worth keeping around. Sutil’s had half a decade and not done that.

          1. like he says going on this logic button would of been history after 2001

  4. This is nadir for williams.
    I have lost respect for this team, I mean two paid drivers!!
    I am aware of all financial implications behind the driver deals, but then how little teams like Force India, Sauber preferred meritocracy.

    1. FI who get help from Mcl/Merc ? It’s easy for them. I don’t blame Williams if they need pay drivers and I think Bruno has some talent but it’s just a sad state of things. Plus, Pastor may be easy to hate but he did better against Rubens than the Hulk in the final qualifying scorecard

    2. Ok, sorry @vikky this isn’t necessarily a post in response to yours, it is a response to all of the people who will be crying “pay driver”:

      The world has changed. Corporates no longer have squillions of dollars to throw at F1 teams in order to showcase their brands at the highest level of sport. Because of this, F1 teams are starting to feel the pinch. I see no reason why we should all point and laugh at drivers who will have managed to get hold of an F1 seat for 2012 partly because they have a bit of a budget behind them, it is just a sign of the times. The world has changed and so has F1.

      And while I’m at it, the term “pay driver” doesn’t have the same connotations today as it did in the early 90’s. Drivers like Senna and Maldonado cannot be compared to pay drivers of yesteryear like Deletraz or Belmondo. Modern racing drivers have to come with skill and a budget, it’s just the way it is!

      1. @GeeMac : I could partially digests some of the things you highlighted.
        But emotions are bound to run high when proven players like Sutil, Alg, Petrov and Rubens are sidelined.
        I saw them perform, may be I may have to eat my words about Bruno, but the above 4 have more earned their places.

        1. But emotions are bound to run high when proven players like Sutil, Alg, Petrov and Rubens are sidelined.

          Proven? In what? :P Sorry, couldn’t resist. Bruno isn’t proven but that isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe he’s worth a risk and the cash than any journeyman. Plus, if it is just about the money then if they only went with talent then the team maybe would collapse and we’d have two less drivers on the grid. Paydrivers aren’t always a bad thing- Lauda was one after all.

          1. Maybe he’s worth a risk and the cash than any journeyman.

            I agree. Plus, for similar reasons to why Renault/Lotus took Raikkonen, Senna is valuable to Williams in more ways than one. Yes, he brings a fair budget boost (we all read), but he also brings potential and sellability – all of which Barrichello, Sutil and Jaime can’t match, I’m afraid.

            I’m going to back him. Maybe more should give him a full (including pre) season’s chance.

        2. @vickky I’m not saying they haven’t but the simple fact is that life isn’t fair, professional sport isn’t fair and F1 certainly isn’t fair!

        3. Not saying Bruno is a “pay driver”, although I think its undeniable, that the marketing appeal of the Senna name and the sponsors he brings in do him no little favour over other candidates.

          I will let an anecdote posted on twitter speak for me @adamcooperf1

          When @BSenna scored his first GP2 win, I asked Ron Dennis what it meant to see the name back. He just said it was a weak series!

          An interesting read about Bruno not being a pay driver is the autosport interview where he says Williams evaluated his skills thoroughly. I am sure they did (was that one of the reasons they did not agree with signing Kimi?), and I am sure Bruno is not unworthy of F1.

          But I do think Williams could have done better for a lineup

      2. agree with you 100%

    3. I think your wrong there Senna did show speed for Renault e.g Spa and he could have only beaten his team mate who was average in a car that wnet more backward than forwards.

      It will be very intriguing to see a Senna drive the WIlliams Renault, I never saw his uncle drive cause I wasn’t born but I hope this is not a nostalgic tug from Williams to attract sponsors and that they have a good car this season to get the last spots in Q3 and the points.

    4. Unless I’ve missed it, I don’t think Embratel have yet announced their sponsorship of Williams…judging by the logo on Bruno’s shirt, that press release must be imminent!

      Whilst I feel sorry for Barrichello and Sutil, I am quite excited to see how Senna gets on. Big risk for Williams taking two relatively inexperienced drivers – especially when they’re having a real problem developing quick cars – but hopefully it’ll pay off.

      1. Is Gillette just a personal sponsor of Senna, or will they follow him onto the Williams (they are on his shirt too)?

        1. @matt90 It’s not a personal sponsor, but they’ve evidently followed him. (He’s also attracted Head & Shoulders, by the looks of things – the secret to his glossy mane?)

  5. Seems like Rubens is retiring from F1 whether he likes it or not. Certainly hoping he doesn’t choose to spend his final years at HRT relegated to the back of the field.

    1. To add, I am thoroughly disappointed that the likes of Sutil, Jamie, Buemi and Heidfeld are without drives over lesser drivers including Senna, Maldonado, DeLa Rosa, and given current form, I’d include Trulli to that list. It only really is a battle for the top seats in the sport, and the rest of the field appears to be next to an advertisement billboard for sponsors or a rookie training facility. These are hardly the best drivers the world has to offer.

      1. I think Bruno deserves the chance, but I agree that Maldonado, De La Rosa and Trulli do not deserve to be on the grid this year.

        Its a shame Sutil isn’t on the grid.

        1. Fernando Cruz
          18th January 2012, 0:11

          Maldonado was better than Barrichello in some itens in 2011, so I think he deserves to be in F1. Overall he did better than Hulkenberg did in 2010 and he will give a hard time to Bruno this year. I believe he would do the same even with Sutil, as he has one year experience within the team.

    2. So, farewell Barrichello (I doubt he is going to HRT). The only driver, I remember so far, that have left gracefully F1 was Michael Schumaker, but everbody knows what happened. Anybody knows, in the recent F1 history, any other driver that was in a competitive team and had decided that their time had past and gracefully stepped down?

      1. Hakkinen comes to mind. Thought initially it was a sabbatical.

        And Raikkonen… before his return.

        1. I agree with Hakkinen, but as far I can remember, Raikkonen was kicked out of Ferrari to make room for Alonso.

        2. I’d say David Coulthard could be considered to be one as well. After all, the kid who took his seat then finished second in the WDC in 2009!

          1. Coulthard would have had a fantastic sendoff if we wasn’t taken out at the first corner :(

        3. and maybe Montoya

          1. Not sure it’s all that graceful to leave mid-season, even if it is mutual.

      2. Does Alain Prost count as recent?

        1. Definitely another good example because a lot of teams would be happy to have him as a driver by the time he retired.

  6. Bad for Williams. I know these days they need a pay driver (Maldonano), but partnering him with someone half decent Barrichello/Sutil seemed to be the sensible thing to do.

    Having two unproven/poor pay drivers is only going to see them struggle again. Sad for such a famous team.

    1. Jim (@vortexgenerator)
      17th January 2012, 13:38

      What they needed was consistency, I echo your statement that this isn’t going to work out in their favour.

  7. I’m overjoyed for Bruno, but saddened at the same time for Rubens. I don’t think Senna will ever be champion (he came into the sport a bit too late), but I’d love to see him in a top car. Bruno’s comeback performance in Spa last year showed that he’s not just a pay driver. He’s also one of the friendliest and most laid back drivers out there, which is ironic considering Senna was probably the exact opposite and very much a “full-on” type of man!

    I’m just so disappointed that Williams are in the position that they have to employ Pastor Maldonado purely for the money he brings if they want to stay in the sport. In a way, I hope Pastor’s funding dries up, but that would probably spell the end for Williams. Now that would be sad. I’m gutted that Rubens is missing out on a seat because of this. If Brazil last year was his last race, it was such an unfitting way for him to bow out of the sport.

    1. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Petrobras is backing him and becomes a sponsor for Williams.

      1. OGX back him so unlikely to be Petobras, also Embratel.(Williams confirmed when AT&T left that they were in negotiations with another telecomms company)

    2. @damonsmedley I actually don’t believe that Senna is a better driver than Maldonado. They both have had a couple of remarkable performances (Maldonado in Monaco, Senna in Belgium) but I don’t think either has proved that he deserves to be in F1 on merit, at least not yet.

    3. I feel the same @damonsmedley . Senna in a Williams has its positive sides, mostly because it reminds of a succesful team and driver, when Bruno and the current Williams aren’t. It also reminds us of a dramtic moment for motorsport as Imola ’94, but this partnership can hopefully bring more positive things to be remembered.
      But I don’t think Senna’s that good a driver to deserve the seat more than Barrichello or Sutil. Maldonado even less so, but I’m not criticising the decision to keep him because I did so at the time it was announced.
      I don’t like Sutil much but this year he’s been awesome at times and a lot more consistent than before. He hasn’t set the world on fire in hid years in the sport, but I rate him higher than Senna.
      Barrichello also has shown amazing consistency in his 19 years in the sport and I knew his time was almost up but I hoped he could race for a 20th consecutive championship; I felt it would have repaid him of the second-driver treatment he received many times in his career. Also, after so long a period in F1, a good farewell would have been welcome, like Michael Schumacher at Brazil 2006. Instead, he himself didn’t know he was going to be sacked or he hoped he wouldn’t be.

      1. I agree @Fixy; it’s such a shame that Rubens may not drive again but none of us could celebrate his achievements in the way he deserved before he left.

  8. Farewell, Rubens.

  9. Well, that’s disappointing. Senna has been reported as beinging fourteen million Euros to the team. So I guess that means history will remember January 17th, 2012 as the beginning of the end for Williams – the day they took and over-rated and under-achieving pay driver over the far more capable (though less economically endowed) Adrian Sutil or Jaime Alguersuari.

    Williams is no longer recongiseable as the team that won nine Constructors’ Championship, seven drivers’ titles and has one hundred and thirteen race victories to their name. There was a time when they ran some of the all-time greats of the sport – Mansell, Prost, Rosberg, and of course, Ayrton Senna to name a few. And while they were in decline for a few years, the end of 2011 saw some light at the end of the tunnel; they were finally getting rid of their “aggressive design philosophy” that had brought them nothing by consistent inconsistency for years, and were starting to turn things around. now they’ve gone and thrown that all away with Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado as their drivers: the single most uninspiring and unexciting combination on the grid.

    As a long-time fan of the sport – though, I admit, I was never a fan of Williams the team – I have to confess that I’m feeling hurt and upset by this. I don’t want to see Williams F1 die a slow and inglorious death, but that is the fate that awaits them. If this is sounding like a eulogy, that’s because it is. The body is still moving, but the eyes are dead inside.

    1. Did we have the telepathy!

    2. @Prisoner-Monkeys They need money to get going again. I don’t like their line-up either, but who’s to say this much needed money won’t give them the boost required to put them back where they belong?

      1. @damonsmedley : As I posted earlier,how other teams with similar budget didn’t follow this route?

        1. What makes you so sure that Bruno Senna is not a good driver? Pastor Maldonado has shown us nothing but hotheadedness and immaturity, but Bruno looks to have a good head on his shoulders and has, on occasions, done something Pastor cannot; impress.

          1. That was meant to be in reply to @Prisoner-Monkeys, sorry.

          2. What makes you so sure that Bruno Senna is not a good driver?

            His consistent failure to out-qualify, out-race or generally out-perform a lowly-rated team-mate. I might be a Vitaly Petrov fan, but I am under no illusions as to Petrov’s standing in the paddock. The fact that Senna fared so poorly against him (out-qualified five times in eight races, out-raced five times in the six races they both finished, etc.) says to me that Bruno Senna does not have what it takes to make it in Formula 1. If he was Bruno Jones, he would have been shown the door months ago and nobody would think twice about it.

          3. If you are referring to his qualy in Spa, sorry, that was just “i” for impress?
            Although I am not debating Senna vs Pastor,but I found it strange that you choose to ignore Pastor’s performance in Monaco, Spa and making into Q3 thrice where Rubens could only manage 11th at best.
            My main point revolves around the fact that similar budgeted team preferring merits instead of all money!

          4. @Prisoner-Monkeys He came in with no-where near as much experience with the car as Petrov, so I’d actually say he did a fantastic job! And you can’t judge him based on his 2010 season, either, as the car let him down in every other race.

          5. It was Petrov’s 2nd year with the team, he had pre-season testing and a lot of experience from the car. When Senna got the seat, he only had a practice session and a test-day in the car under his belt.

          6. If you are referring to his qualy in Spa, sorry, that was just “i” for impress?

            Senna’s qualifying performance at Spa was impressive. His entry into La Source was not. Grand Prix weekends do not end on Saturday afternoon, so whatever goodwill Senna built up with seventh place was gone when he hit Alguersuari. And this was not an isolated incident, either – he had another top-ten qualifying performance in Brazil, only to hit Schumacher. He simply wilts under pressure. To make matters worse, Petrov scored points in both Belgium and Brazil after starting behind Senna.

          7. And you can’t judge him based on his 2010 season, either, as the car let him down in every other race.

            Every other driver gets judged based on his performances in every race he starts. Senna deserves the same treatment.

            I’m sorry, he might be a Senna, and that might make us all a little nostalgic, but I stand by my original assessment of him: on pace alone, he does not deserve to be in Formula 1. Not when there are drivers like Adrian Sutil and Jaime Alguersuari out there with no seats.

          8. I’m sorry PM, but I completely disagree. I don’t think Bruno is the next Vettel, but I think he deserves more credit than you’re giving him. He had two incidents last year and that’s enough for you to say he “simply wilts under pressure”?

            His crash at La Source was more than likely down to not knowing how the car would handle being filled with fuel, and his collision with Michael in Brazil was just a racing incident. The fact he got a penalty for it showed the FIA are consistent… Consistent in penalising the silliest of incidents.

          9. He had two incidents last year and that’s enough for you to say he “simply wilts under pressure”?

            Because both incidents came when he was running inside the top ten, and both incidents were deemed to be his fault by the stewards.

            But it’s not jsut two separate incidents – it’s a general lack of performance compared to his team-mate, who was not highly rated to begin with.

            And in case you’re wondering, this is not one of the thigns you can change my mind about. I believe Senna does not belong in Formula 1 just as much as I believe Formula 1 has no business making political statements in Bahrain.

          10. Because both incidents came when he was running inside the top ten, and both incidents were deemed to be his fault by the stewards.

            That doesn’t mean he wilts under pressure. Especially not the first one.

            But it’s not jsut two separate incidents – it’s a general lack of performance compared to his team-mate, who was not highly rated to begin with.

            As I said, it’s a little bit difficult to compare him to Vitaly when he had no-where near as much time in the car when he took over from Heidfeld. The fact that he was able to outqualify and outrace Petrov even once demonstrates to me that he certainly deserves a place in F1.

            I don’t expect you to change your mind, but I’m yet to see any decent reasons for you believing he doesn’t deserve a seat.

          11. Daniel Ricciardo performed admirably under similar – if not tougher – circumstances to Bruno. Why couldn’t Senna perform like that – after all, he’d been with the team all year, driven the car once in pre season testing, and had a season with HRT the year before – a season where he didn’t exactly dominate the lowly Karun Chandhok.

            Does Senna deserve a seat? Not at Williams – troubled as they may be, there are plenty of better drivers out there who would love that seat. I fully expect Maldonado to outperform Senna.

          12. I agree with PM. Senna is not good enough to be in F1.

          13. @damonsmedly, when you write

            but Bruno looks to have a good head on his shoulders and has, on occasions, done something Pastor cannot; impress.

            I think you forget that Maldonado did have some pretty impressive moments in Monaco as well. Just the car. And his temperament. But starting in the top 10 in Spa and then crashing into Jaime Alg. is not that impressive to me.

            And to add to what @Prisoner-monkeys wrote, just look at the start of Bruno in F1 – he was never really convincingly beating even Karun Chandhok in the HRT.

          14. I have to agree with PM, Senna has had his chance and he failed to impress. I don’t think he should be at Williams when there are better drivers who have no seat.

          15. Senna didn’t impress me at all, and that was compared to Petrov whom I don’t exactly rate highly.

            Senna, I have to say it, wouldn’t be in F1 if he had a different surname.

            I’d love him to do really well, but Senna is well below the standard that F1 deserves.

            Not only that, but to be there above Rubens, Sutil and Heidfeld. Oh and Jaime and Buemi…

            This really is quite ridiculous.

          16. @Prisoner-Monkeys @Mike @John-H @slr @BasCB @Dan-Thorn I just don’t understand why Bruno is getting so much hate when we’ve got de la Rosa, Trulli and Maldonado taking up seats that could be occupied by Rubens, Adrian, and Sébastien. Bruno is unproven. Therefore, you can’t definitively say he doesn’t deserve a seat. No-one really “deserves” a seat, but everyone with at least some potential deserves a shot before they can be criticised. Give him a chance, please. He may just make you eat your words yet. Even if he doesn’t, it’s still harsh to be judging him so early.

            As for Rubens, you could say he’s had enough time in F1, but that’s rubbish, and it’s completely ignoring the fact he’s still delivering. Someone like Trulli, however, is not doing anything at all and being dominated by his not-so-highly-rated team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Rubens still has a lot to give and isn’t showing signs of slowing down, which is why it doesn’t seem right to me that Trulli and de la Rosa get seats instead of him.

            And it’s not Williams’ fault that Sutil, Alguersuari, Buemi, and Heidfeld don’t have seats, so I don’t see why the team is copping so much hate. I don’t like Pastor, but I also understand why the team chose him. I’m sure they’d rather have Rubens, but at this stage, he’s probably not an option.

          17. I just don’t understand why Bruno is getting so much hate when we’ve got de la Rosa, Trulli and Maldonado taking up seats that could be occupied by Rubens, Adrian, and Sébastien.

            De la Rosa is good for Hispania. They are in serious need of someone who can develop the car, and de la Rosa has been McLaren’s test driver for years. He is exactly what the team needs right now – and that’s something neither Sutil nor Buemi can offer.

            Trulli is entirely unnecessary at Caterham (though I get the impression he has convinced himself that he is). Popular rumour places Vitaly Petrov there, and the fifteen million Euros he is believed to have on offer will be of particular benefit to the team trying to make the final step and compete for points. They already have a talented and experienced driver in Kovalainen, so between him and Petrov, there is nothing Sutil, Buemi or Barrichello could offer.

            Maldonado is not so much good for Williams as he is a necessary evil. He brings an estimated forty million Euros to the team through PDVSA, money that can be put to good use developing the car. Senna brings a fraction of that, and none of the experience that Barrichello or Sutil could offer. Senna is simply the wrong choice for the team. He is not what they need right now.

          18. @damonsmedley I don’t hate Senna, but I think hasn’t done enough of competant job to deserve the seat above others. You may not believe that Senna has had a proper oppotunity, but I disagree. A full year with Hispania and just under half a year with Renault is enough. What I gathered with Senna in 2010 was that he may not be gentle with the car as itconstantly broke down, whilst Chandhok and Yamamoto were finishing races. At Renault, he had support of the team which Heidfeld didn’t have, and he was still generally slower that Petrov. His error in Belgium was amateurish, and in Brazil he should have backed off.

            Like PM, I think de la Rosa is a good driver and Hispania could do with his experience. He proved himself in the few races he had with McLaren, and did a competant job at Sauber.

            Maldonado in my opinion did enough in 2011 to earn himself a second year with Williams. He matched up to Barrichello fairly well, when many thought Barrichello would destroy him.

            I agree that Trulli is past it, but guys like Sutil, Buemi, Heidfeld, Alguersuari and Wickens deserve seats in front Senna.

        2. How do you know what their real budget is, and how much each of the drivers is paid/paying? Unless you are on the board of all the teams all you have is speculation and guesswork which are meaningless.

      2. They need money to get going again.

        They’re already getting it from Maldonado.

        who’s to say this much needed money won’t give them the boost required to put them back where they belong?

        Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado. Neither is capable of driving at the level Williams has displayed at the past. While their money might make the FW34 better than the FW33, we’re unlikely to know it.

        1. Bigbadderboom
          17th January 2012, 17:28

          I though the whol point of the IPO was to raise the capital required to continue in a positive vein rather than having to make further concessions to pay drivers and the sponsors they bring. Brunno Senna has not had the chances others have but given Williams current lack of form and restructuring it would have made more sense to retain Rubens for another season at least, it seems a big gamble give Rubens experience.

        2. They’re already getting it from Maldonado.

          Suppose, they are hedging against possible problems with Maldonado if Chavez loses his 2012 reelection bid. And what alternatives do they have? Sutil was probably eliminated because of Lux incident trial. Alguersuari? For starters, may be he isn’t all that interested trying to land reserve driver job in some top team like Buemi did (and I would say it is a better opportunity for him to enhance his market standing than Williams drive). Anyway I think in their strategy Williams has already reserved the place of a “young prospect” for Bottas. Raikkonen? We don’t really know who dumped whom in their courtship. May be it was Kimi’s initiative. Rubens? Judging by 2011 car his engineering input is a little bit overestimated and he doesn’t have Michael’s marketing appeal to keep racing after 40. Vitaly? I would like to see it happen but on pure racing terms it won’t make much difference for Williams. On the marketing side they are busy looking for new title sponsor. And if this possible sponsor isn’t interested in Russian economy Vitaly is irrelevant while Senna’s name is always an asset.

          1. Vitaly? I would like to see it happen but on pure racing terms it won’t make much difference for Williams.

            Multiple sources in England, Germany and Brazil are all reporting that Petrov will join Caterham, with an announcement expected soon.

          2. they are hedging against possible problems with Maldonado if Chavez loses his 2012 reelection bid

            The elections don’t take place until October. PDVSA will have paid Williams well in advance before there. There is no danger of suddenly losing the money in 2012.

        3. While their money might make the FW34 better than the FW33, we’re unlikely to know it.

          Great point PM. The difference a good driver can make versus a below par driver is huge in F1 terms. These guys will always be running half a second off the pace – a time difference that will cost the team millions of pounds to make up through car development.

      3. Fernando Cruz
        18th January 2012, 0:16

        So, it seems to me that you really think Bruno would be slower if he raced as Bruno Lalli.

        Let’ s think a little bit: how can someone be blamed for something that any racing driver would do in his place? Anyway if he raced as Bruno Lalli everyone would know he was Ayrton nephew the same way. What do you suggest he should do? Not to go racing? Why? Just because he is not son of Ayrton? That doesn’ t make any sense.

        Damon Hill was son of Graham Hill and that is one of the reasons he was not as much criticised by some people as Bruno. But Hill also had the advantage of a famous name and look at what he did in junior categories – he took 10 years to get to F1 and never won a single race in F3000. Bruno took just 4 full seasons in junior categories, won 3 races in GP2 and was second in the championship. He was never champion, but the same can be said about many good drivers who made it to F1, in past and present.

        One example: how many titles did Niki Lauda win before getting to F1 in 1971/1972? None. But in F1 he was a triple world champion.

        Really, I don’ t think Bruno is special (he spent too much time out of racing after Ayrton’s death) but certainly deserves respect for what he did in a short period of time. Also luck has not been on his side, he could have started with Honda in 2009 but the japanese quit and he was left without a drive. Without that he could be a much better driver by now, much more developed.

        1. So, it seems to me that you really think Bruno would be slower if he raced as Bruno Lalli.

          No, I think Bruno Senna will be slow, whatever name he uses.

          One example: how many titles did Niki Lauda win before getting to F1 in 1971/1972? None. But in F1 he was a triple world champion.

          How is that proof of anything?

          1. Fernando Cruz
            18th January 2012, 15:23

            Compare Damon Hill and Bruno Senna in junior categories and you’ll see Bruno showed much more talent. He deserved more to be in Brawn in 2009 than Hill deserved to be in Williams in 1993. The difference was that in Hill days testing was almost unlimited while Bruno got to F1 precisely when testing during the season was cancelled and even before a season it became very limited.

    3. The worst part of all this, I should add, is that Williams had the chance to reverse their fortunes when they were talking to Kimi Raikkonen. I might not like Kimi, and I might not understand the appeal of him, but I do know that he is the kind of driver Frank Williams would have head-hunted were he racing twenty years ago. He’s one of four top-class drivers (the others being Hakkinen, Schumacher and Alonso) who never raced for Williams. The team had their chance to get him and to start making progress, but they let him slip through their fingers.

      1. Adam Parr has ruined Williams. Well, what do you expect from an investment banker.

        1. Adam Parr has ruined Williams. Well, what do you expect from an investment banker.

          Sorry @JohnH but I don’t think one man can ever ruin a team unless it’s the boss of everything of everything just as one man is never responsible for a team’s success plus Williams have been in decline for longer than Parr was appointed to take over the day to day running. It’s a shame I’m saying this as I wanted to agree with you after your nice Massa/Ferrari comment the other day! :P

          1. @Steph Yes you’re right of course, it’s not down to one man think I was in a bad mood earlier! In some ways the big turning point was the fallout with BMW in 2006, just before Parr arrived took over.

            Some if the decisions since then have been questionable. They’ve made some big changes of late hiring Coughlan and letting Sam Michael so let’s see what happens. The two pay drivers move doesn’t sound encouraging to me however.

            Oh and I’m really pleased you liked my Massa comment, an honour from an obsesse like yourself! I do like him sometimes ;)

        2. He’s not an investment banker. He may have started as an equity analyst, but spent most of his career with the miner Rio Tinto & also qualified and practised as a lawyer.

          1. Thanks for putting me right @mphipps . My bad on this one.

      2. I’m curious to this comment @prisoner-monkeys.

        1. Sorry; my itchy finger hit the button before I could finish the comment. I’m curious about it @prisoner-monkeys . Why do you say that Kimi would have been a better step?

          I’m not disagreeing with you; nor am I saying you’re wrong. I’m just curious as to your reasoning.

          A known car developer; and good team builder – someone like the 1996-spec Michael Schumacher – would probably be a much better fit; though I’m not entirely sure Kimi could have fit that role.

          1. Why do you say that Kimi would have been a better step?

            Because I think he has some ability to drive a car beyond its limits. Perhaps not as much as Alonso or Hamilton, but he would certainly be able to do things in the Williams that Senna and Maldonado cannot.

      3. Ok PM, so Kimi is a better driver than, say, Vettel?

    4. While you’re probably not wrong about Senna being the choice at williams, it would be worth considering that with out all the money they have at their disposal at RBR, Vettel probably wouldn’t just have won two titles in a row and in fact would probably still be struggling to show his talents in a midfield car.

      works all ways.

    5. Was it really “Williams” winning nine constructors and seven drivers titles?
      I think it was Newey who was winning it. Williams have been in decline ever since he left them. There have been a flash in the pan in 2003 – that’s about it.

      1. I think it was Newey who was winning it.

        Even in 1980/1 and 1986/7 when he wasn’t working for them?

  10. Now, for the HRT seat… I suspect it’s between Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Giedo van der Garde.

    1. I’ve heard rumours that Kevin Ceccon, the Auto GP Champion of last year has already signed the contract. He looks a good prospect, but maybe a little bit young…

      1. The great thing about HRT is you never quite know what will happen.

        1. …or if they’ll even be there in Melbourne!

        2. @mike

          The great thing about HRT is they never quite know what will happen.

          There, I fixed it for you.


          I’ve heard rumours that Kevin Ceccon, the Auto GP Champion of last year has already signed the contract.

          I posted something about that the other day. Until about a week ago – which is roughly the same time as these reports started emerging – Kevin Ceccon was (supposedly) going to race for Coloni in GP2. But then Coloni dropped him without a word and drafted in Onidi and Coletti. No explanation was ever given, but I’m having a hard time tracking down the original source that said Ceccon was in because of Wikipedia’s SOPA blackout. We need @Fixy for this – he might be able to tell us if Ceccon was ever contracted to race for Coloni, or if it was simply misreported.

          1. Haha, Funny man.

          2. @Prisoner-Monkeys You can still access Wikipedia if you disable JavaScript, or more simply, press the Escape key before the blackout message appears. :)

  11. Williams+Renault+Senna – yeah, sounds great, but…
    I hope it’ll be a good choice for this great team, they know what they’re doin’
    but it’s strange, two drivers with little experience and no tests during the whole season. 2011 was an awful year for Williams, but can Pastor and Bruno give useful feedback to improve the car next season?

  12. So Williams has preferred money to talent and experience. The team used to employ one pay driver in the past, it looks like they’ll have two now. Let’s wait and see where this decision takes them, maybe cash is now vital for the survival / development of the team. But I just don’t see how Maldonado and Senna make a stronger driver line-up than Sutil and Barrichello.

    1. I just don’t see how Maldonado and Senna make a stronger driver line-up than Sutil and Barrichello.

      That’s simple. They don’t.

      1. They may not be at this stage, but they have both the potential to improve. Sutil is a solid drive and after 5 year you know what you going to get from him. But I doubt if he is in F1, for the next 5 years that he will show one anything different than he did already. Barrichello is going to give you the same as he did this year, a solid drive. Maybe even a bit worst as he is getting older. And speaking bad things of your own team to the media don’t do yourself any favors. Bruno can only improve, and if not that will also be the end of him. If he can’t surpass Sutil performance in this year (I believe he will), that will be the end of him too. Maldonado is a bit hot headed. He can improve his race craft and I believe he will. It is too early in my opinion to say he doesn’t belong in F1. The end of this season will tell. In my opinion only Alguersuari would have been a beter option than Bruno.

      2. It’s a typical pragmatic Williams decision. They’d sooner spend the money on developing the car. Let’s face it, if they produce a good car (something they haven’t done recently) then that’s their best bet shot at moving up the grid. The difference between Bruno and Rubens could more than be made up by having some decent aerodynamics, rather than some mediocre ones.

  13. Money rulzzz!!! Two pay-drivers in legendary Williams team. That’s not what I expected…

  14. For me, this comes as a surprise, as I had expected either Rubens or Adrian to get the seat.

    Good luck to both Williams and Senna, though, in what will be a make-or-break year for Senna, and possibly Williams too.

    @prisoner-monkeys, I don’t share your pessimism as this being the end of Williams. At this time of year, anything is possible, and if the car is good, then Maldonado will deliver, and perhaps Senna can as well. And although it’s true that last year I wasn’t among the greatest believers of Bruno’s potential, I do agree with Frank that in his previous F1 outings, it was hard to assess his potential. This year, he will get a proper shot, and let’s see what he makes of it.

  15. Looks like that’s it for Rubens Barrichello in F1. He had a good career, and I’ll never forget watching him win in Germany in 2000. Alas, all careers must end, and even though he wasn’t the best driver I am going to miss Rubens on the grid come March.

    1. I know that was his first win and arguably a classic but my favourite Rubens win was Silverstone 03 (strange how he attracted lunatics running onto the track). He was just magnificent that day to the extent that he actually made me forget Schumi was racing.

  16. Hooray! Great news for Bruno. Let’s just hope the FW34 isn’t as rubbish as the FW33 was.

  17. Chris Goldsmith
    17th January 2012, 12:48

    To offer an alternative perspective, I think it’s worth considering whether Sutil, Barichello and co would really have been the right choice for Williams. While I do agree that it’s important to have some experience behind the wheel to develop and set up the car, the fact is that Buemi, Alguersuari, Sutil, Barichello, all have had opportunities to demonstrate the kind of spark that might take their careers forwards, and all have failed in that respect.

    I said this about Renault when they took on Heidfeld last year, that i couldn’t understand why they had decided against a driver who was an unknown quantity and might show potential, in favour of one whose career has shown him to be a bit on the steady side. None of the other drivers Williams could have chosen really seem to have championship potential. Senna clearly didn’t inherit his uncle’s incredible flair behind the wheel, but he’s still a rookie and still developing. It would be unfair to dismiss him as someone who definitely won’t show potential in the future, especially when you consider the unique circumstances of his road into Formula 1. He might just surprise people. Barichello, much as I like him, definitely won’t

  18. I see melodrama is still alive and well amongst the F1 fanatics.

    Give Senna a chance I say, he’s barely had a fair crack of the whip in F1. He spent 2010 in a car that could have been beaten by a Stoddard era Minardi and then last year he was thrown in at the deep end at Spa having never driven on the Pirelli’s before.

    I believe Senna could surprise a few people this year as could Williams.

    Also, where do you expect Bruno to turn up as a rookie anyway. Lets face it, Williams are now a back of the grid team which tends to be where the self funded rookies get their F1 breaks. Seems a perfect fit to me.

    I have to admit to feeling a little spooked when I first loaded up my F1 2011 game to find that in career mode you are given a choice of driving for one of the back of the field teams and yes Williams were in that category. Still, there’s no point getting all dewey eyed about Williams’ illustrious past, they aren’t. Instead they’re working hard to put things right and I think spending as much money as possible on car design and development is much more important than chucking £20m at a superstar driver.

    This is a reset button for Williams, give them a chance to show what they can do.

    I am hopeful they will be firmly back in the points this year and after a winter of tyre testing I predict Senna will wipe the floor with Pasta Maldonara.

    1. Good post!

      I think Williams would be the first to admit they just aren’t good enough anymore.

      You can only play with the cards you are dealt. We can talk all day about the decline of Williams and the whys and wheres, but they are where they are and they are dealing with the best way they can.

      They need money, they are getting it.

    2. But back of the grid certainly isn’t where Williams intend to be. They were a midfield team in 2010 and I think they want to drive at least in the midfield again. And even Lotus and Virgin each have at least one experienced, relatively strong driver.

      Senna didn’t exactly destroy his previous team mates (Petrov and Chandhok) so I doubt whether he will do that with Maldonado.

      1. You make a poor comparison. Lotus picked up Kovalainen when his stock had fallen after dismal seasons at Mclaren and Renault so they’ve been paying him in chip butties the last 2 seasons in exchange for a couple of seasons to sort his game out. Trulli was doing his old mate Gascoyne a favour by joining Lotus but also had no other choice and raced for a very small sum, 450,000 euro I believe. Lets face it, the only one worth having has been Heiki. They might as well have given the other seat to someone with some cash in the hope that Kovy could help them up to speed. Hence the Petrov rumours we are hearing.

        Similar situation with Virgin, they picked up Glock for a bargain price because he had nowhere to go and the other seat was a pay seat both seasons and again this year.

        Also, Lotus and Virgin have probably got more budget that isn’t provided by their drivers than Williams have. Before Senna, PDVSA were Williams’ only sponsor after AT&T quit and they don’t pay enough to bankroll an entire F1 operation. Williams have no choice, they are racing hand to mouth these days much like the Paul Stoddart era Minardi Team whereas Lotus and possibly Virgin are in the ascendancy.

        Gone are the days where Williams can attract blue chip sponsors. Lotus or shall we start calling them Caterham who are now a “works” team have the backing of Air Asia and there will be tie ins with QPR and other areas of the Fernandes empire too.

        Virgin, or Marussia are now also a “works” team supported by the Marussia Supercar Company and the blue chip brand Virgin who “remain an important partner of the team and will retain a significant presence on the car”.

        It’s sad to say but its Williams that are scraping around for leftovers under the sponsorship table which is why they have 2 paying drivers. This year could be the final roll of the dice for the team unless the gamble taken on restructuring pays off; something they desperately need the money from these drivers for.

        Teams that chart a meteoric fall from grace such as Williams often don’t survive.

        Minardi finished 9th in constructors championship in 2002. 3 seasons later they were out of business.
        Jordan finished 9th in constructors championship in 2003. 2 seasons later they were out of business.
        Honda finished 8th in contructors championship in 2007. 1 season later they were sold after another dismal season in which they finished 9th.
        Brabham finished 9th in constructors championship in 1989. Team went out of business by 1992

        Williams are at this stage in their lifecycle and in this fiscal world its money that keeps heads above water. Senna and possibly Maldonado have what it takes to pick up points for Williams if the car is up to it. This will bring vital further funds with which to continue to rebuild. This is an interim measure and once the team has managed to increase its backing by achieving a better WCC position they can then start thinking about bigger sponsors to pay driver wages etc.

        The teams decisions reflect the position they are in. They have bitten the bullet and so must we the fans and just hope they can pull off the mother of all resurrections.

    3. Also, where do you expect Bruno to turn up as a rookie anyway

      If you look at Senna’s career before getting into F1, it’s pretty average to be honest. A lot of people don’t expect much from him not because he is a rookie, but because they don’t think he is really that good and is only in the sport because he is called ‘Senna’.

      That’s why some are saying don’t give him a chance, because drivers like Sutil are probably much better, will bring more points home for Williams and hence in the long term more stability.

      Two pay drivers for a team at the sharp end of the grid not that long ago is something to get a little dramatic about if you are an F1Fanatic!!

      1. A lot of the drivers coming through are pretty average. Senna came 2nd in GP2, even if he didn’t do it particularly smoothly. He beat a lot of drivers who have since come into F1, and although a lot of them were in their 1st full season rather than 2nd, most of them weren’t competing in only their 4th year of motorsport since 1994.

  19. Wow, brave decision from Williams i feel, it shows that they are willing to take risks to get the team further up the grid. I’m happy with this, it spices up the season even more! :D

    on a different note, Rubens rubens rubens, you should have announced your retirement, this isn’t the way you should have gone, you deserved a proper farewell for your services not only for the teams you drove for in the 19 years but your dedication to the sport we love. I salute you.

  20. While it’s highly likely that Senna’s sponsorship connections (note Embratel and others on his shirt in the picture above) has eased his way into the team, it’s good to see a promising young driver getting a place in F1.

    Much as was the case with Maldonado 12 months ago, I think people can be too eager to play up the ‘money’ side overlooking the achievements of the driver in question. Senna showed a good turn of speed in GP2 in 2008, was runner-up to (the massively over-experienced) Giorgio Pantano, and probably would have taken Barrichello’s place at Honda in 2009 had they not pulled out of the sport.

    His handful of starts for Renault this year were hit-and-miss, but it’s easier to iron out mistakes in a quick driver than make a slow but steady driver more competitive.

    You do have to worry about the lack of experience in the team’s line-up, but at Senna’s Renault connections and knowledge could prove useful.

    1. @keithcollantine Senna (28) is actually not that young anymore. In fact, he’s only 9 months younger than Sutil :) Anyway, I wish him all the best. I am just, as Alphaville once sang, hoping for the best but expecting the worst…

      1. Well considering he has only been racing since he was 20…he IS young! ;-)

        1. @GeeMac Yeah I know he took a ‘break’ from racing from 1994 until 2003 due to well-known reasons. Taking that into account, his performances have actually been surprisingly good so far but I also think that this long ‘break’ means he is unlikely to ever rise above the level of, let’s say, Petrov or Maldonado.

    2. Hear, hear.

    3. For me it’s not the ‘money’ side but the ‘Senna’ name that perhaps makes me wonder whether being runner-up once in GP2 is really enough to merit an F1 drive, especially after last season when he didn’t show he was ‘quick driver’ in my opinion, just a bit faster than Petrov in qualifying.

      Maybe I’m being too harsh and in many ways I hope I am wrong because Bruno is such a nice guy.

      Some good inter-team battles shaping up by the way.

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