Just over a week on from his sportscar test with Oreca at Paul Ricard in France, Bruno Senna has switched disciplines by trying out for Mercedes-Benz's DTM squad at Hockenheim – impressing with his pace and admitting afterwards that 'the close racing and focus on outright speed in this category could suit me very well'.
The reigning GP2 Series Vice-Champion is currently weighing up his options after being overlooked for the second Formula 1 seat at Brawn GP this year in favour of vastly more experienced countryman Rubens Barrichello. He has repeatedly insisted that his primary concern is to retain close links with the top flight so that he may try to graduate again in 2010 – and he clearly believes the supremely high-tech, pan-European touring car series is a viable option.
Hockenheim is a circuit that Senna knows only briefly from his successful GP2 season last year, but it is a regular port of call for DTM regulars, and Mercedes made use of the opportunity to evaluate the young Brazilian's potential as the three-pointed star continues to deliberate over its 2009 driver line-up.
“The test will continue for a second day,” the 25-year-old revealed, “after which we will have the opportunity to discuss the future with Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. It has been fun so far, and I have enjoyed getting onto the pace quite quickly in this car.
“I don't underestimate the level of competition in the DTM, though. It is a great series, high-profile and good wheel-to-wheel racing.
“There is much to discuss, but the close racing and focus on outright speed in this category could suit me very well and could certainly be one new experience that can add value to my career as I aim for F1 in the future.”
Senna's outing came in a 2008-spec C-Class, and it has been rumoured within the DTM paddock that – as Mercedes seeks to slim-line its effort slightly from nine cars to eight – Mathias Lauda and, more surprisingly, Paul di Resta could both be on their way out.
The son of former three-time F1 World Champion Niki Lauda, Touring Car Times
suggests, is in negotiations for a drive in the FIA GT Championship, whilst the 2008 DTM runner-up – whose name has been mentioned in connection with a move to GP2 in the past – has told fans on his website: “I know you're keen to learn what I'm going to be racing this year. Believe me, I'd love to tell you...but there are still a few fine details which need to be ironed out and agreed. I should be in a position to let you all know in two or three weeks.”
Whilst acknowledging that Senna had made a positive impression on his first day in the car, Haug was quick to stress that no decisions have yet been made. Perhaps of note, however, is the fact that Brawn GP – with whom the São Paulista had at one stage believed he would be making his grand prix debut this year – is powered by customer engines supplied by the Stuttgart marque.
“Today, Bruno Senna got his first whiff of DTM air and he enjoyed it,” Haug stated. “He'll be testing again tomorrow, and then we'll all sit down and decide what happens next.”