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Barrichello admits he was lucky to see off Senna


Rubens Barrichello has admitted that fate conspired to give him the second seat at the renamed Brawn GP team, instead of presenting fellow Brazilian Bruno Senna with an opportunity to make his Formula One debut in 2009.

Even before the collapse of the Honda team for which Barrichello drove in 2008, Senna was being tipped to make the step up from the GP2 Series. The younger Brazilian, who had pushed Giorgio Pantano all the way to the season finale before missing the feeder series title, tested on several occasions with Honda and looked almost certain to partner Jenson Button in the team in 2009.

Then came the news that the Japanese marque was ceasing its F1 activities with immediate effect, offering its team for sale in an effort to keep 20 cars on the grid. Senna, it seemed, still had a trump card to play, having been linked with a substantial sponsorship package and even to Carlos Slim, the world's second richest man who was rumoured to be interested in snapping up the cut-price operation.

It all proved to be something of a mirage, however, with Slim's reported helicopter arrival at Honda's Brackley base merely a fabrication, and Senna's backing not turning out to be quite as big as quoted. When Brazilian petrochemical giant Petrobras stated that it would not be bankrolling him into the top flight, and other sponsors proved not to be quite as valuable as believed, Barrichello's name returned to the frame.

With confirmation of the deal that eventually saw Ross Brawn take over as the new team owner coming just three weeks before the opening grand prix of the season - and with just two test opportunities before the blanket ban falls on the eve of Melbourne - Barrichello's vast experience came even more to the fore, and the veteran was duly confirmed alongside Button as the BGP001 took its first laps at Silverstone on Friday.

Senna, meanwhile, appears left with few options for the coming season. Having turned his back on GP2 partner iSport in favour of holding out for an F1 ride, he has also seen other leading seats in the category snapped up by eager rivals and, with testing roles likely to be thin on the ground, now appears to be pinning his hopes on a sportscar seat to keep his name in the minds of those in the top flight.

Barrichello has yet to drive the new Brawn machine - the initial testing of which has been left to Button - but offered his sympathies to Senna, who he admits has shown all the attributes necessary to break into the top flight, despite his apparent inexperience.

''We're good friends, and although we haven't talked for the past couple of months when we've been fighting for a position, it has nothing to do with us,'' Barrichello told reporters during the Barcelona test, ''It was sheer coincidence that we ended up at the same place at the same time. I'm just lucky that, at this time, Formula One has changed a little bit and, because of the lack of testing, it is going to [favour] more experienced [drivers].

''I wish him all the very best. For someone who has [just] three or four years of experience, he has done fantastically well - and he has a future in Formula One. I haven't seen anyone with the capability of running for three years in cars and, all of a sudden, getting to Formula One and doing so well like he did in testing.''

Senna has been linked to a possible test with sportscar team ORECA with a view to joining its Le Mans 24 Hours line-up, and is also rumoured to have spoken to Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug, although the subject, he insists, was Brawn GP's engine deal and not a possible DTM seat.


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