His Formula 1 ambitions for 2009 may have taken something of a hit following Honda's shock announcement late last year that it was to withdraw from competition with immediate effect, but Bruno Senna nonetheless remains hopeful of being on the grand prix grid this year - and if he is, he asserts, he will have earned his place through talent, not the size of his wallet.

The reigning GP2 Series Vice-Champion tested for the Japanese concern at Barcelona in Spain back in November, and in lapping within three tenths of a second of regular driver - and former Hungarian Grand Prix winner - Jenson Button, reportedly impressed enough to be invited back for a second outing. That, of course, sadly never materialised.

"It was a very big surprise for us," Senna acknowledged of Honda's decision, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. "At the time of the test there were no indications that the team was in any difficulty. It was a very rapid chain of events that led to Honda withdrawing.

"I was pretty confident with the result of the test. There was probably going to have to be another test before I could confirm anything, but I was quite happy with the way the test went. I just needed to have another opportunity to drive the car and explore the limits a bit more, and show the team that I had the potential to be with them for this season."

Whether or not he possesses the necessary potential is no longer the issue, however; what counts now is whether a buyer is found in time to enable the 750-strong Brackley-based outfit to make the starting grid for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in just under two months' time.

Whilst no news is often seen as good news, that may not be the case in this situation, with time running out and still no on-track running for the new car - ahead of a campaign in which all in-season testing has been banned. Senna agrees that if a saviour is found and the team do make the grid, it will be an uphill struggle from thereon in - even if he is confident that with the calibre of people like Ross Brawn on-board, progress will be swift.

"It's hard to say right now what the possibility is of someone purchasing the team," the 25-year-old reflected, "because obviously the economic situation is not great. It's still quite quiet for February; it's not very far from the season, but it's quite hard to get any news about what's going to happen with the team and what's going to happen with Formula 1. I hope everything goes well with them, and not only for me but for Formula 1 that they are in the championship.

"I think especially the start of the season will be difficult for Honda. Everybody has been testing for more than a month now, whereas Honda haven't been out at all. They're going to be able to test maybe just once or twice before the season starts, so for sure that will make things difficult for them, but they have a good technical team and they have a good car in development. For sure it's going to be difficult, but throughout the year I think they will improve and maybe become competitive."

As to his own chances of benefiting from that progress, the S?o Paulista confessed that he is not really any wiser than anybody else in the paddock. What he is certain about, however, is that he wants to gain F1 promotion on the basis of his talent rather than how much money he could bring along - which effectively wipes out his only other option for 2009, that of the remaining free berth at Scuderia Toro Rosso, a seat with which he once found his name strongly linked.

"As I've said before, it's very difficult to find that kind of money," he mused, "especially with the economic situation that the world is in. I think I feel more confident about driving for a team that is hiring its drivers for their results and talent than just for money.

"I think there is a good impression not just from me but from the team (Honda) - they are positive about what I did - but there is also the side that's against me within the team, which is of not having much experience. I would be going into Formula 1 for the first time with very little testing because I didn't do any during the pre-season.

"It's very hard to say what the conditions will be like. If I get the opportunity to be in Formula 1 this year it will be a learning year for me; for sure I'll make a few mistakes, but I can learn very quickly as I have already shown. Even if I struggle in the first few races, I think we'll be quite strong towards the middle and the end of the season."

Should he not be successful in making his F1 bow this year, the nephew of the late, great three-time world champion Ayrton Senna admitted that a return to GP2 remains a possibility - even if he has had to regrettably tell iSport International, the squad with whom he finished as runner-up to Giorgio Pantano in 2008, that he cannot do so with them.

"Obviously I would love to drive for iSport again this year," he concluded. "I had a great time with them in 2008 even with all the difficulties that we faced, but it was a difficult situation that I was in because they needed an answer by mid-week, and I just could not commit to say yes to them.

"We're not in a position to say yes to a GP2 team right now, and we couldn't keep them hanging on for much longer because as a team they have their commercial side to deal with and need to get a driver with a full budget and everything. We established that we couldn't commit to drive for them now.

"For sure GP2 constitutes a possibility. Obviously as time goes by there are less and less options, but in the meantime you see that the championship is just about to begin and teams are still talking to drivers and testing drivers to start the season with. I just hope I don't have to get to that stage..."

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