Bruno Senna is confident of his chances of belatedly making his Formula 1 debut next year, and if he admits to pangs of jealousy that he is not driving what is presently the best car on the grand prix grid after coming so close, he points out that when he does make it he will be 'one of the most versatile drivers' in the field.
Off the back of a title-challenging season in the feeder GP2 Series that ultimately yielded the runner-up laurels, Senna was widely viewed as a shoe-in to join current world championship leader Jenson Button at Brawn GP, arisen out of the ashes of the defunct Honda operation. At the eleventh hour, though – and despite two positive test outings along the way – the young Brazilian was overlooked by team principal Ross Brawn in favour of his older and more experienced compatriot Rubens Barrichello, and his F1 dreams were dashed...
...for now at least, as the nephew of the late, great three-time world champion Ayrton Senna has revealed that he is still very much on the fringes of the top flight, and in discussions with a number of teams regarding securing a berth for 2010 – as the ongoing FIA-FOTA budget cap civil war casts uncertainty over just who will be present next year and who won't.
“I would love to be driving that car,” the 25-year-old confessed to international news agency Reuters
, speaking about the pace-setting, Mercedes-powered Brawn GP BGP 001. “I think it's very easy to think if I were driving that car that I would be fighting with Jenson for the race wins and everything, but I have to remind myself that Rubens is a very good driver, he has experience and it's not easy to win a grand prix.
“I have been talking to a few people, [and] there are good chances in Formula One I think next year. The market is going to be a bit more open; there are some contracts that are ending, some teams that are interested in joining Formula 1. It should be a bit more stable than it was this year really.
“We have broadened our chances...we are speaking to more than two teams. I think we have a good chance with teams that want to enter Formula 1 and we have some good interest from teams that are currently in Formula 1.
“There is a risk of talking to the wrong teams, but at the same time there is a risk of being inside a Formula 1 team that may not be there next year so it's a difficult situation for me and everybody else. I don't think anyone is confident that they are talking to the right people. No-one knows who is going to be in and who isn't – or whether there is going to be a Formula 1 as it currently stands.”
In the meantime, Senna is preparing this weekend to make his first start in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Oreca, and will line up in 15th spot when the legendary round-the-clock classic gets underway on Saturday afternoon, sharing the French outfit's AIM-powered LMP1 machine with former winner Stéphane Ortelli and ex-F1 star Tiago Monteiro.
Indeed, the Oreca tie-up came about despite speculation linking the São Paulista to a berth with Mercedes-Benz's DTM squad, as Senna eschewed a category that some view as the closest to F1 outside of F1 in favour of plying his trade in sportscars as Michael Schumacher once did – though, doubtless much like the German, always with one firm goal in his mind.
“It's a great programme because I am learning a lot of different stuff,” he enthused. “Technically it's been great for me, though I am still essentially a sprint race driver; I haven't yet got the same pleasure driving an endurance race as I do in a sprint race, where I can push and need to be on the limit and I know that every tenth counts.
“I probably need to mature more as a driver to really find the true enjoyment that you can find in an endurance race, but for sure it teaches me a lot about saving the car [and] about strategy. I think next year in F1 there will be no re-fuelling, so I guess knowing how to save fuel without losing too much time is going to be a good asset for a driver. If I had the chance in Formula 1 next year, I could be one of the most versatile drivers on the grid.”