I have caught up with WEC driver, Bruno Senna to discuss his racing career so far and what it was like growing up with a famous uncle.
- As a child, what was it like being Ayrton’s nephew on the streets of Sao Paulo?
Senna: I was aware of how famous Ayrton was, but all of my friends always treated me absolutely normally. Some people would want to talk about him, but it was very relaxed back then.
2. What made you decide to become a racing driver after the terrible fate that sadly befell Ayrton at the 1994 San Marino GP?
Senna: At that point, I had already been in go-karts for a few years and the motor-racing “bug” was deep in my veins. It was a struggle with my family, when I decided to come back to racing 10 years after he passed-away but with time, things got better.
3. In 2005, you made your motorsport debut in British F3. What was it like battling against more vastly experienced rookies and picking up a few podiums?
Senna: It was very tough to go against those drivers who were at a very high level and had much more experience. On the other hand, it made me raise my game pretty quickly, which helped fast-track my career. It was nice to get a pole-position and a few podiums in such a competitive field on my very first year of racing. It gave me good confidence that I could do the job in the future.
4. Two years later, you graduated to GP2 and won some races. Which win stands out as your favourite?
Senna: Barcelona was a very special race for me, as it was the 2nd round of the championship and it meant that I was leading the standings on what was recognised as not the best car at the time. We had a few podiums as well, but lacked a car that was competitive on all tracks, so couldn’t really fight for the Championship.
5. A year later, you won at Monaco. How special was it to win in Monaco after the history that the family name has with that race through Ayrton?
Senna: I still regard that win as my favourite memory in my racing career. That track and podium are very special to me and my family, so winning there brought back amazing memories, as well as giving me great confidence for the rest of the championship fight.
6. At the end of 2008, you had a one-day test with Honda and finished within two tenths of Jenson Button. How surprised were you when you looked at the timesheet and noticed how close you were to beating him?
Senna: I was very happy with how the testing went. Considering how many more sets of new tyres Jenson had during that day, I think I was more than close enough to him.
Of course, you always want to beat the other guy in the same car, but ultimately that test got me the 2nd test that would happen in Jerez a few weeks later.
Unfortunately, Honda pulled-out the following week and the 2nd test never happened. My memories are great and I still keep the helmet that I only ever used for that test in my living room.
7. How special was it finally reaching Formula One and racing for HRT, who were also debuting at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix?
Senna: Reaching F1 was the life-long dream come true, but racing for HRT was not the way I pictured it. The team had terrible issues in all sorts of ways and the car was never competitive, unfortunately.
8. What was it like joining Lotus as a test driver before replacing Nick Heidfeld from the Belgian GP till the end of the 2011 season?
Senna: Lotus was a great team and the car was really fun to drive. Starting past the middle of the season was pretty tough, but I feel like I did a good job, especially in qualifying on most of those races. Scoring my first points in F1 was also very cool, especially after 2010.
9. Just six months later, you were driving for Williams. What was the toughest thing about racing against Pastor Maldonado that season?
Senna: Pastor was very fast in qualifying. His driving style really worked for the 2012 tyres, which gave him a good edge in qualy performance. I struggled to make the front-tyres work, so that set me back a lot for the championship, but we got a good amount of points and the team was really nice to work with!
10. You were part of the first two Formula E seasons. How tough were the cars to drive in comparison to any other single seater due to the fact that car swaps mid race is required in this series unlike any other?
Senna: Formula E is a very special series. Completely different race format, cars and strategic challenges from anything we’ve done before. The racing is really fun and close, even on the very narrow and challenging street circuits. I can see it going far in the future, as battery tech develops.
11. Finally, in recent years, you have been increasing your media work so after retiring from racing, could people see you in the commentary box or analysing the on track action?
Senna: Hopefully retiring from racing is still a long way away, but the media work is certainly a route that I could take for the future. Certainly, I enjoy being on track much more than commenting on it, though!
With special thanks to Bruno Senna and Kbru Communications.