By BRAD SPURGEON
Bruno Senna, 26, is a rookie driver at the Hispania team, one of three new low-budget teams to enter the series this year. Senna, a Brazilian, is the nephew of the three-time world champion Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, who died in a racing accident in 1994. Senna spoke to Brad Spurgeon of the International Herald Tribune about his first three races in Formula One.
Q. How much of a technical challenge is it for you in starting a small, new team with little experience of Formula One?
A. I like it. I am feeling very much at home. I think the engineers are giving us drivers a lot of leeway and credit for helping them, and the other way around. We are working together very well. And fortunately for me, I am pretty good at sensing the car and translating the information to the engineers.
Q. Was it difficult to choose between coming to a small team and having that kind of input but being hampered by the lack of performance or going to a big team but being lost in the machine?
A. It’s always good to be running in the front. It’s good for your confidence. The teams that have a very solid engineering base and very solid knowledge of the car can help the driver as well; sometimes the driver is struggling and they can help the driver. But in terms of experience, this is really good for me. I can come out of this season as a much more complete driver, a much more experienced driver that can go into one of the big teams, one of the other teams, and give them better input than the guys who haven’t been through this. This is a very good opportunity for me to develop myself.
You just need to change your objectives and you need to adjust your expectations. I think as things develop we can start to adjust our objectives to better achievements. It’s very easy to lose yourself in thinking “Ah, I’m never going to get a result and never going to score points.” But you never know. Grand Prix racing is very unpredictable. And we are working very hard. I have plenty of energy to work, everybody in the team is very motivated and I am really motivated. I want to make my career last for years and years. I don’t think only about the moment, I think about the future.
Q. But there is not much time for a driver in Formula One to show what he is worth. Is your goal for this year to get noticed as quickly as you can and to beat your teammate, Karun Chandhok?
A. As teammates we are working together to get the car up and running and better, but he is my first enemy on the track. So for me, and I imagine it is for Karun, the first objective is to beat each other. But I see it as a question of making the most of every opportunity that you have. If I can be the best that I can every time I drive the car and bring the car back into the garage with positive feedback and help the team go quick, proving myself during the race weekend, this is the sort of thing that other people notice, and also inside the team they notice. So you can either get a chance inside the team for the following year or you can get a chance somewhere else for the following year. Only time will tell what’s going to happen.
Q. Are you enjoying yourself?
A. I am. I really enjoy it. Melbourne was quite tough because it was hard to drive the car. But I prefer to have a very difficult car to drive that gets the driver to push to get a result out of himself rather than to just having a car that under-steers around the corners and that gives you a very low heart rate. This is better for the thrill.
Q. Do you ever think about whether your uncle Ayrton would approve of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it?
A. Well, I hope he’s proud because I’m not being lazy, that’s for sure. I think he valued hard work a lot. And it has been hard work. Since the beginning of my career I’m used to being one step behind the other guys. I think the only year when I was actually at a good level against the other guys was in the GP2 series in 2008 where I had some good experience from the previous years and I was very good with the car and I could fight for the championship, and I did. But in the end, experience plays a big part in motor racing and being quick is only a part of being a race driver. You need to have a good head, you need to be confident. And very little things can upset your confidence, so I hope he’s proud.