F1 2010 debutant Bruno Senna has revealed that far from being content with merely having made it onto the grand prix grid, his ultimate goal now is to follow in his illustrious uncle's footsteps in becoming world champion – as Adrian Campos insisted that the best from the young Brazilian 'is yet to come'.
Senna will make his bow in the top flight next year with Campos Grand Prix, twelve months after it had initially looked like he would make the leap with Brawn GP, before he was passed over at the eleventh hour by the ex-Honda F1 operation in favour of more experienced compatriot Rubens Barrichello.
However, the 2008 GP2 Series runner-up has been dogged by persistent and unfair accusations that he has bought his way into F1 or that he is living off the name and reputation of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna, who was tragically killed in the early stages of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
The 26-year-old will not be paid in 2010 – meaning his entire salary will be constituted by personal endorsements – and team principals Ross Brawn and Sir Frank Williams have already expressed their fears that the intense limelight, pressure and weight of expectation could prove too much for him, but Senna has been adamant from the outset that he is determined to establish himself in his own right.
“I hope, in a short time, that everybody remembers me for being Bruno, myself, and not for my uncle's surname,” he stressed. “I've learned to live with it and although it helped me at the beginning to find sponsors and find contacts, to be a driver you need to have natural talent. I want to score points for my new team and [help Campos] to be the best of all the new teams. Long-term I would like to be Formula 1 World Champion – it's not enough just to get there.
“I will receive no pay, but I'm allowed to have personal sponsors. I am here because I trust Adrian completely. I spoke with all the teams except Ferrari, and almost all of them demanded that I contribute five million Euros in sponsorship. In the end I reached an agreement with Campos because they believe in me and because they think that my name will help them to get sponsors.”
The return of the Senna name to the grand prix grid for the first time in more than a decade-and-a-half is a prospect that fans are undoubtedly relishing, and Campos – who has signed the Paulista on a one-year deal – is confident that the former British F3 star will not suffer a similar fate as did Nelsinho Piquet, a driver with an almost equally famous surname who failed to perform at the highest level and will now likely only be remembered for his leading role in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal.
“I wanted to sign him for my GP2 team a few years ago,” Campos – who competed in F1 himself for Minardi in the late 1980s – told Spanish news agency EFE
. “With the little experience he has, he lapped with Honda at similar times to those of [Jenson] Button.
“He was runner-up in GP2, something that's not achievable for everybody. These days drivers reach [F1] with 1,200 or 1,300 races behind them; Bruno has 200 at best. The best from Bruno is yet to come.”
The identity of Campos' second driver in 2010 remains uncertain, with the Spanish outfit's number one target – experienced McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa – looking to be out of the running due to funding issues [see separate story – click here
]. The team has, however, become the only one of the four 2010 newcomers to already take and pass the FIA's stringent frontal and lateral crash tests with its Dallara-designed chassis.