Another driver who started racing late was Alain Prost. I thought he started karting competitvely when he was 17, though all I can find on Wikipedia is that he discovered karting during a family holiday at the age of 14. Given that Bruno was karting before his 10-year break, the disparity between experience does not look too great. Also, Kimi Raikkonen jumped into F1 after only a single season of single-seater experience.
I am personally of the opinion that talent will manifest itself sooner rather than later, and that a really talented driver – and that’s how I read this thread’s topic: would Bruno Senna have been world champion(ship material) – does not need years of experience to display his talents.
Also, with regard to Ayrton’s assessment of Bruno’s talent, I am always take such recommendations with a pinch of salt. Ralf was supposed to be even better than Michael, and DC said his sister was actually better than he was (that that would have been a Hakkinen – Coulthard battle I would have liked to see). I am not saying these people are lying, but I want to see some results before I put stock into nice words about family members.
All of the above may seem to lead up to some epic Bruno-bashing, but in fact I do not rate him lowly (and I certainly don’t agree with PM’s catalogue of mistakes, supposed mistakes and their importance). I agree with Eddie Jordan, though, when he assessed Micheal Schumacher last year at the European Grand Prix. Someone put to him: “all this extra experience must make a difference, right?”, but Eddie countered that raw speed is what you build everything else on. We have seen occasional flashes of speed from Senna, so I hope we see more good things from him this year.
What worries me, though, is that he has been a bit underwhelming in qualifying this year. Is it the tyres? Is he not getting enough seat time? Is he unhappy because he feels Williams are getting Bottas ready to step into his seat? Whatever the reason, he has to step up his game, and quickly.