On the eve of what he had called his 'second home grand prix', Bruno Senna has been dramatically dropped by Hispania Racing (HRT) for Silverstone in favour of the Spanish outfit's reserve driver Sakon Yamamoto.
Team principal Dr. Colin Kolles confirmed that 'the drivers are Yamamoto and [Karun] Chandhok' for this weekend's British Grand Prix, the ninth round of the F1 2010 World Championship, although no more information has yet been forthcoming. The FIA has since acknowledged the change, and an official statement is expected at some stage this morning.
Whilst Hispania has generally made up the numbers during its maiden campaign of top flight competition thus far, Senna has performed more than respectably, out-qualifying team-mate Chandhok seven-two and racing well, with the pair – good friends and former team-mates from GP2 two years ago – proving to be generally fairly evenly-matched over a grand prix distance.
There was speculation over the winter that the nephew of the legendary, late three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna would be released from the contract that he had signed with HRT's predecessor Campos Meta 1 to make way for a better-heeled competitor, and it seems money could again be the root of the problem now, with claims that a lack of sponsorship has forced the financially-struggling Murcia-based operation to replace the young Brazilian with the better-funded Yamamoto.
The Japanese ace began 14 grands prix for the now-defunct Super Aguri satellite Honda squad and the Kolles-run Spyker concern in 2006 and 2007, though he never came close to scoring a point and was rarely a match for his respective team-mates Takuma Sato and Adrian Sutil. Turning 28 today, he has already participated in one Friday practice session for Hispania this season in Istanbul, sharing the role with Christian Klien.
Largely due to a poor run of reliability on his car, Senna has only finished three races in 2010 – with a best result of 16th in both Malaysia and China – but he had been eagerly anticipating the British Grand Prix, being based in Britain and with a large fan base in the country having spent much of his junior career in the UK. He also set pole position in both British F3 and GP2 at Silverstone, so has happy memories of the Northants circuit.
“I love driving at Silverstone,” he had confessed earlier this week. “It's a unique place and feels like my second home grand prix. The atmosphere is great, with so many fans turning up for the race, and I have always been fairly successful here.”
The 26-year-old's manager Chris Goodwin has rubbished notions that Senna has been sacked altogether as 'absolutely ridiculous' – and only days ago, the Paulista had admitted that he would like to remain at HRT into 2011.