A dramatic weekend for Williams
that saw the highs of claiming their first Grand Prix victory in eight years followed by the drama of the pit lane fire have ended up transforming the outlook for the team.
But it's looking increasingly likely that Bruno Senna won't be a part of those plans in 2013, especially after the weekend's stunning events coming on top of the news of Williams' latest Finnish sponsors coming on board.
Senna's seat was already under threat coming into the Spanish Grand Prix
in Barcelona, after failing to make it through Q2 in any of the first four races of 2012. He did deliver the first championship points of the year for the team with sixth place in Malaysia and seventh in China, but struggled and ended up retiring at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix
with handling issues.
Friday practice at Barcelona saw him comprehensively outperformed by the team's test and reserve driver Valtteri Bottas, who was up in fifth place in the timings for Friday's FP1 session in Senna's car; Senna himself was only 18th fastest in the afternoon session, in what amounted to a direct comparison of the two drivers to the detriment of the Brazilian.
Bottas said that he had "really enjoyed" his session and stressed that this was the first time he hadn't been learning a circuit from scratch: "This was the first track of the season that I already know so it was nice for me to be able to focus purely on the driving from the start."
Bottas has already been handed the FP1 outing for 15 of the 20 Grand Prix weekends, limiting Senna's opportunity to familiarise himself with the track and putting him on the back foot for the race itself. But then in the run-up to Barcelona came news of Williams' latest sponsorship signings.
One deal is with Finnish business enterprise Wihuri, a longtime sponsor of Bottas since 2006. The second is with a Finnish welding manufacturer called Kempii - which has sponsored Bottas since 2008.
It's not exactly a master feat of detection to join these dots and conclude that Bottas' signing for 2013 is a done deal, even if it has not yet been formally announced or confirmed by the Grove-based team.
While it's long been known that Williams
has been grooming Bottas to take a race seat with them next season - Bottas is even managed by Williams
investor Toto Wolff - it was still unclear who would be the odd man out. Senna had been seen as at least a match for Pastor Maldonado, who brought with him a lot of sponsorship money from Venezuela but was widely dismissed as being 'just a pay driver'.