Vijay Mallya has revealed that he is potentially lining up Bruno Senna to replace Formula 1 veteran Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India when the Italian finally hangs up his grand prix helmet – admitting that 'there were too many changes' within the team to have contemplated a new driver this year.
Senna – nephew of the late, great three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna – was expected to make his debut in the top flight with Brawn GP this season, only to ultimately be overlooked in favour of his more experienced countryman Rubens Barrichello. The latter, however, insisted that the reigning GP2 Series runner-up still had a future at the pinnacle of the sport – and it seems he may well have been right.
Force India chairman and managing director Mallya has hinted that he considered an alteration in his driving line-up of Fisichella and Adrian Sutil over the winter, before ultimately electing to play in favour of stability in the light of all the other upheaval the team was going through, from a complete management restructure to its new technical and engine supply tie-up with McLaren-Mercedes.
Indeed both long-time Mercedes-Benz protégé and DTM race-winner Paul di Resta and experienced McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa were linked with a berth at the small Silverstone-based squad for 2009, and whilst it was assumed that it would be Sutil who would be the man to make way, it now seems that may not be the case.
“There were too many changes I was making with the team,” Mallya told British newspaper the Observer
. “We had management changes and I wanted to have some stability and continuity.
“I know that Giancarlo is reaching the end of his racing career; it may not be next year, but he is certainly at the tail end.
“There are youngsters waiting in the wings. One of them is Bruno Senna, and we all thought he would be signed by Brawn GP but they went with Barrichello. We will look at the youngsters at the appropriate time.”
The Kingfisher Airlines billionaire has also regularly made clear his desire to run an Indian driver in the near future, whilst Senna has recently signed up to compete for Oreca's sportscar squad this year, and may also land a DTM seat with Mercedes – a move that would likely make his link with Mallya even stronger.