Williams has completed its 2012 F1 driver line-up after confirming that Bruno Senna will partner Pastor Maldonado for the season ahead.
The 28-year-old Brazilian had been linked with the team for some time after it became apparent that he wouldn't secure a drive with Lotus – formally Renault - for 2012, having competed for the team from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards last season.
Senna, who made his F1 debut back in 2010 with Hispania, replaces fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in the Williams line-up.
“I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers,” he said. “The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history. The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season.
“It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton. Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too. I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today. I am very proud to be Brazilian and more motivated than ever to demonstrate what I can do. Ever since I first sat in a go-kart I never wanted to do anything else.”
Team boss Frank Williams said he was delighted to sign Senna and expressed confidence that he was the right man for the job.
“Bruno only started racing when he was 20 years old but quickly proved his talent in F3 and GP2,” he said. “In a tightly fought 2008 GP2 season, Bruno finished second in the Championship with notable victories in Monaco and Silverstone, the latter in the wet.
“The circumstances of Bruno's two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver. We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.”
Confirmation that Senna will complete the Williams line-up appears to call time on the career of the most experienced driver in F1 history, with Barrichello now seeming highly unlikely to appear on the grid for a 20th season.
Despite that, the former Jordan, Ferrari and Brawn GP driver was quick to congratulate the man who will take his drive for the year ahead.
“I won't be driving the Williams car this year,” he wrote on his Twitter
account moments after the news was announced. “I wish my friend @BSenna all the best…the future is wide open.”