Though he has been most prominently linked with Scuderia Toro Rosso, it has emerged that Bruno Senna is also under consideration at four other Formula 1 teams for 2009 - Williams, Honda, Toyota and BMW-Sauber.

The GP2 Series front-runner - currently trailing championship leader and ex-F1 ace Giorgio Pantano by seven points in the title standings with three rounds to go - has been most strongly connected with STR due to the close friendship shared between the small Faenza-based squad's co-owner Gerhard Berger and the Austrian's former McLaren team-mate Ayrton Senna, Bruno's late uncle.

There will be a vacant seat at STR next season following Sebastian Vettel's promotion to the parent Red Bull Racing outfit - indeed possibly even two should S?bastien Bourdais not be retained beyond the end of the campaign either.

What's more, both BMW-Sauber and Toyota have reportedly discussed the possibility of employing Senna as a test driver in the top flight in 2009 with the Brazilian's management, whilst it has now been suggested that with potential race seats coming up at both Williams and Honda, the 24-year-old - of whom three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton once famously said 'If you think I'm good, just wait until you see my nephew' - may find an opening there too.

Furthermore, it has been claimed that Brazilian oil company - and current Williams sponsor - Petrobras could be willing to substantially support the S?o Paulo-born star's graduation to F1 should he make the jump with the multiple-championship-winning Grove-based concern.

"If a very good team offered me a test drive for a year and a race drive for the next year, that's a good prospect," Senna told GPWeek, "but I'd primarily prefer to have a race seat."

"It's good if people in F1 are starting to talk about me," he added, speaking to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, "but I have unfinished business in GP2.

"I think an F1 race seat would be more valuable to me than a back-up role next year, because I still have a lot to learn and you can't replicate all of that in testing."

Berger has repeatedly sought to downplay any suggestions of Senna making the jump up to F1 with STR next year, insisting: "I run a team in partnership with Red Bull, and shouldn't mix personal things with business.

"If Bruno is clearly the best candidate, though, then we'll discuss it anyway. He reminds me of Ayrton - he's very switched on, very quick-thinking. If he's GP2 Champion, it doesn't matter what his name is."

Honda CEO Nick Fry also refused to deny that he was keeping a keen eye on Senna, whilst adding: "But there's been no specific move in that direction."

Meanwhile, Senna has spoken of how he has long been accustomed to living his life in the spotlight, despite having not begun his racing career until the relatively late age of 18, following his uncle's fatal accident in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and his father's death in a motorcycle incident not long after, when Bruno was just eight.

"It was kind of a taboo," the iSport International ace told The Associated Press. "I just had to respect the pain and the family; I just had to cope with it. [My mother] wasn't expecting [me to say I wanted to race]. It was more surprising than about getting mad over it for her.

"I'm quite used to having a lot of attention, since the beginning when there was no reason to have attention - it was just because of the name. Now it is because of the name and because I'm doing quite well and may be on the verge of going to F1, and I think people recognise my work.

"I had very good bases and it helped me to grow and be strong inside. When I have bad results I don't get down inside; I keep up the momentum [and] energy, [and] I'm still pushing strong to come back. I try to keep on a good run.

"Hopefully most of the interest that I'm getting, which is growing with each race, is because of the results. I want an opportunity in F1, whether it's Toro Rosso or another."

"His speed is obvious," added iSport International team principal Paul Jackson, "but he's also incredibly bright. Driving the car uses only a small percentage of his mental capacity - and that's typical of the really top guys."

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that STR - which is likely to lose its Red Bull Technology support post-2009 once customer cars are outlawed in F1 - is looking to add up to 50 extra staff to its workforce.

"We are trying to grow," Berger told GPWeek, "and if we want to improve our performance we have to grow. I wouldn't say 50 people, but I would say that we definitely want to strengthen ourselves for the future."

One of the new appointments is believed to be Fabio Segalini, a man heavily involved in the design of the first GP2 car.


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