Despite being confirmed for a maiden Formula One test with Honda when the winter development season re-opens later this month, Bruno Senna has revealed that has not closed the door completely on Scuderia Toro Rosso.
No doubt wary that the Italian team has vastly out-performed Honda this season, GP2 Series runner-up Senna told journalists at Interlagos that he also intended to test with Toro Rosso over the off-season before making a decision - if, indeed, it is his to take - about where to go in 2009.
While his name has most strongly been linked to Honda in recent weeks, where it is expected that he would replace fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, the issue is clouded by speculation that Fernando Alonso has also been talking to the Brackley concern, while the Spaniard's Renault team-mate, Nelson Piquet Jr, was also thrown into the mix over the weekend. Other sources, however, claim that Senna has already received a formal offer to join STR....
Indeed, Brazilian newspaper Fohla
reports that Toro Rosso - co-owned by Gerhard Berger, a former team-mate of Senna's late uncle - has offered the 25-year old a contract worth $14m, attracted by the combination of his raw ability behind the wheel and the sponsorship that his name would undoubtedly attract.
"The possibilities [of being in F1] are healthy and solid, although much will rest on the outcome of the tests," Senna admitted, "For now, nothing is signed, and a lot will depend on external factors which will affect the decisions that we will have to take."
Senna's expected test with Honda was officially confirmed the day after the 2008 season had wrapped up at Interlagos [CLICK HERE
], but is no guarantee that he will join the team next year.
Although team principal Ross Brawn admits to having been impressed by Senna's performance in this year's GP2 campaign and wanting to evaluate the Brazilian's potential in an F1 car, the rumour mill continues to insist that he is not a shoo-in for a race seat next season.
Current incumbent Barrichello maintains he is not done with Formula One despite being poised to become the oldest driver in the field, while Alonso has yet to be confirmed as remaining at Renault, although that decision is expected to be announced in the very near future. With no development driver ready to step into the breach, it could be that Senna and Barrichello could be the team's remaining options, although grandprix.com
reports that Piquet Jr could be a surprise outsider if he is not retained by Renault.
Although paddock rumour in Brazil suggested that the son of three-time F1 champion Nelson Sr would
hold on to his seat alongside Alonso next year, the presence of another Brazilian, Lucas di Grassi, at Enstone could persuade Flavio Briatore to swap his GP2 runners-up for 2009. If that is the flamboyant Italian's decision, it is rumoured that Piquet could end up in the mix at Honda, where Jenson Button is expected to be retained as team leader.
Over at Toro Rosso, meanwhile, little has been decided for 2009, other than the departure of Sebastian Vettel, who is destined to replace David Coulthard at Red Bull Racing. The German's current team-mate, Sebastien Bourdais, is hoping that his second half performances will be enough to keep him in contention for another season, but the team has already tested both Takuma Sato and Red Bull protégé Sebastien Buemi with a view to filling one seat next season, while Senna remains both a viable and personal option for Berger.