Bruno Senna confessed that he was a 'very happy' man after taking the chequered flag in ninth place to tally his first points for Lotus Renault GP in only his second start for the team in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix – his sole regret, he conceded, was that the race did not last a lap longer...
Having impressed by qualifying a superb seventh on his competitive debut for Lotus Renault GP after being drafted in at the eleventh hour to replace the out-of-favour Nick Heidfeld for the Belgian Grand Prix – only to blot his copybook somewhat by causing a first corner accident in the race at Spa-Francorchamps – Senna again caught the eye by sneaking into Q3 at Monza, but this time, he would find himself on the receiving end of an opening lap pile-up entirely not of his own making.
From tenth on the grid, the Brazilian narrowly avoided being sideswiped by the errant Hispania Racing entry of Vitantonio Liuzzi into Turn One – unlike some of his rather more luckless rivals, team-mate Vitaly Petrov included – but he found his line through the corner compromised and, following an early pit-stop at the end of the lap, emerged all the way down in 18th position.
From there, the 27-year-old charged his way up the order into ninth, battling feistily past the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Sébastien Buemi in the closing stages and homing right in on the back of Force India F1 rookie Paul di Resta at the flag to return the Senna name to the points standings in the top flight for the first time since the 1993 Australian Grand Prix.
“I'm happy to score my first F1 points, especially as it was only my second race for the team,” he remarked. “Although I started tenth, it was not an easy job to finish ninth. We suffered some bad luck in the first corner; everybody was cutting the chicane which forced me to drive on the outside, and in the process I lost all the places I had fought so hard for in qualifying.
“It makes me very happy, though, to know that I am able to put myself in the position of scoring points, and also to fight with guys who have been doing this for a long time. The pace of the car was clear for all to see, but I wish the race had been just one lap longer because I may have been able to pass Paul for eighth. The team chose a great strategy, the tyres were fast enough where I needed them to be and I am very happy to get my name on the points board. The team did a great job, and I am really looking forward to Singapore.”
“Naturally, I am very disappointed with what happened,” rued Petrov, a helpless victim in the Liuzzi-instigated mêlée
. “I had a reasonable start and, as I was heading into the first chicane, Vitantonio's HRT came from nowhere and hit me big-time, which brought my race to an end. There's nothing I could have done to avoid this.
“First of all, I'm happy not to be injured, as the impact was quite strong and it could have been a nasty accident. We have put in so much effort since Spa, at the track, Enstone and Viry, so I'm sorry that wasn't translated into points. This is part of racing, but I can't help thinking that we could have secured a good result.
“We must now concentrate on Singapore, which will be a real test for us. We will be bringing another technical upgrade with us, before going on to quicker tracks like Japan and Korea, which should suit our car better. On the upside, the car felt good since the first practice session [at Monza]; we definitely made a step forward performance-wise, and we should have a strong end to the season.”