Bruno Senna secures Williams drive for 2012

2012 F1 season

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.

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226 comments on Bruno Senna secures Williams drive for 2012

  1. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 17th January 2012, 12:45

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

  2. Chris Goldsmith said on 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

  3. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 17th January 2012, 12:48

    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.

    • Tom Haxley (@welshtom) said on 17th January 2012, 13:24

      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.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 17th January 2012, 13:33

      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.

      • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 17th January 2012, 15:13

        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.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 17th January 2012, 14:02

      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!!

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th January 2012, 15:21

        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.

  4. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 17th January 2012, 12:49

    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.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th January 2012, 12:54

    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.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 17th January 2012, 13:09

      @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…

      • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 17th January 2012, 14:22

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

        • Girts (@girts) said on 17th January 2012, 14:54

          @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.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th January 2012, 13:10

      Hear, hear.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 17th January 2012, 14:09

      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.

  6. spide (@spide) said on 17th January 2012, 12:57

    bad line up..

  7. The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 17th January 2012, 13:03

    A sad day. Williams with two pay drivers and imo the worst driver lineup of all the teams on the grid for 2012. Senna needs to absolutly blow Maldonado away next season and show himself as a leader of this team to move forward in his F1 career.
    Oh how I wish Barrichello could have Maldonardo’s car.

  8. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 17th January 2012, 13:09

    I think a lot of people are looking at this negatively simply because Maldonado is the other driver. Bruno Senna driving for Williams? Sure. Senna and Maldonado as a pair? Ouch. Barrichello, Alguersuari or Sutil could have all been team leaders, but now they have two drivers who have referred to by many as pay drivers.

    I hope Senna proves a lot of people wrong, and beats Maldonado – the latter of which has shown sparks in qualifying, occasionally, but really hasn’t delivered in the races, and that’s when he hasn’t crashed out or grabbed a penalty.

    The FW34 surely can’t be worse than the FW33. And with enough money to keep development up through the season, I wouldn’t say it’s all doom or gloom for Williams this year.

  9. vjanik said on 17th January 2012, 13:28

    If Rubens joins HRT it will be the grandpa team.

  10. Carlitox (@carlitox) said on 17th January 2012, 13:31

    I am pretty disappointed. I wanted Rubens in, but Williams have dropped quality and experience for money and now they have two inexperienced drivers. Same mistake as Lotus made when dropping Heidfeld for (oh look!) Senna. I stick to my hypothesis now more than ever: Williams will sooner or later suffer the same fate as Brabham. This year, is their last chance. Bruno and Pastor should really floor the gas pedal now.

  11. adzz36 (@adzz36) said on 17th January 2012, 13:32

    I can understand why people are sad to see Williams take on another “pay driver” but lets be honest, they have no choice. The team has been under-performing for the best part of a decade now and they can no longer rely on having the best personnel, the best drivers, or last season’s prize money to stay competitive. It’s more important for the team to take the sponsor money from a lesser driver and invest it into the car and the team to build for the future and actually have some hope of regaining some competitive potential, than to pay for a big name driver at the risk of spiralling into more debt, running out of cash and imploding entirely if they end up having a poor season anyway.

  12. AlonsoFan-UK (@alonsofan-uk) said on 17th January 2012, 13:44

    In a way I’m happy for Bruno, it will be interesting to see how he does over a full season in a car and team which has the stability and competitiveness that he has not had over the past two years, obviously his time at HRT hardly needs a comment and then replacing Heidfeld in a under performing and unfamiliar car at the back of last year.
    However It is a risky decision for Williams, especially alongside Maldonado, whom I regard as the most under performing driver of the feild at the moment to say the least. I would have loved to see Rubens and Brunno in the same team, but money talks at the end of the day.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 17th January 2012, 13:54

    Wow. Things must be pretty bad down in Grove.

    Am I correct in saying that De La Rosa’s drive at HRT is not based on any sponsorship he can bring?

    If so, this really does look bad for Williams.

    However, i’m pleased for Senna. It will be nice to see him have a fresh start at a team that SHOULD be reasonably competitive. I’m not counting his spell at HRT and I think he did have some good moments at Renault.

  14. WarfieldF1 said on 17th January 2012, 13:55

    key techie staff out mid season, new techies in from mid season to Christmas………..its going to take this season to turn the team around assuming such a thing is possible……..two rookies paying loads will do fine if the car is crap as it wont have mattered who drove it, if the car is surprisingly good (it wont be) then they will do fine regardless of drivers ……….money to develop for next year is more important.

  15. Nikos (@azwris) said on 17th January 2012, 14:04

    Speaking as a mega-fan of Ayrton, I’d have liked Bruno if he was mentioned with his real name and another helmet design. It’s a sad day indeed.

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