Both Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg have admitted that are hoping for a swift return to F1 races seats after again showing what they can do in Friday morning practice at a grand prix.
While Hulkenberg has been allowed to rack up the miles at each round so far this season, former HRT racer Senna grabbed a rare chance to take to the track when he was handed Nick Heidfeld's Lotus Renault for the opening 90-minute session at the Hungaroring. The Brazilian then reminded onlookers what he was capable of by recording the 15th best time of the session, shaking off some of the F1 rust that had accumulated since his final race for backmarker HRT in 2010.
After lapping just seven-tenths slower than Renault team leader Vitaly Petrov, the 27-year old Senna admitted that he hoped his performance had jogged a few memories along pit-wall.
“For now, it is a one-off opportunity but I guess, if I did well enough, they might consider doing it again," he said of the Lotus Renault team, aware that the Enstone squad has one of the biggest reserve line-ups in the top flight, “I hope that I have given them the motivation to explore a little bit more.
“There was no point in trying to be a hero, [but] there were no mistakes and no excursions from the track. I would loved to have had a lap that was closer to Vitaly, but the chances of that were pretty low considering that you only have one set of tyres, and they don't last very long.
“However, I learnt more about the car, and the evolution of it. I would have liked to have run on another set of tyres to get in a quicker lap time, but it was still a great experience - and very beneficial. I'm glad the weather held out as it allowed me to take what I wanted from the 90 minutes. It was a fantastic opportunity and I enjoyed every moment, no doubt about it.”
Senna's chances of returning to the cockpit this season might rely on the strength of Romain Grosjean's claim to either a test or race seat. The French driver currently leads the GP2 Series standings, increasing his advantage after lucking into Saturday success in Hungary, and comes highly rated by Renault's Eric Boullier. The young team principal, however, refused to be drawn on whether any
of his deputies could step up later in the year.
"It is too early to say this, obviously," Boullier claimed, "We wanted to give a little bit of track time to Bruno as the reserve driver, and we are happy so far to keep Nick [Heidfeld] in the car. I think Romain is on our radar, maybe for next year, but there is absolutely no consideration to give him some track time now."
Asked whether there were any plans to run other 'third drivers' later in the year, Boullier replied with an non-committal 'maybe'.