After much hype linking him to any number of Formula One seats for 2009, Bruno Senna finally made his first appearance in a contemporary grand prix machine on the opening day of the Barcelona group test.

The Brazilian, who has previously had the chance to demonstrate McLaren and Lotus cars piloted by his world champion uncle, has been linked to at least three teams for next season, but made his 'debut' with Honda as winter testing kicked off at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Sharing the day with fellow countryman Lucas di Grassi, with whom he duelled over second place in the GP2 Series standings this year, Senna completed 39 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix venue, clocking a best time of 1min 24.343secs in cold but sunny afternoon conditions. With both Brazilians rumoured to be in contention to replace veteran compatriot Rubens Barrichello for 2009, Honda was keen to give both the same opportunity, with Senna following a similar programme to di Grassi and finding his feet on grooved tyres before switching to slicks.

"The first day of my first Formula One test has been just as big a moment as I expected it to be," admitted Senna, who ran an RA108 chassis fitted with '09 season developments, "I have had a lot of fun and really enjoyed myself.

"This morning, I focused on doing as much as I could to prepare for my turn. I listened to the team radio and watched and learned how the team works. I was feeling quite calm but, on my first lap out of the garage, I realised the significance of the moment. This is a very special opportunity and one which has been a dream my whole life.

"The team were great and left it to me to find my level but, by the end of my second run, I was feeling very much at home in the car. There were lots of new sensations as the gearshifts, engine power and aerodynamics compared to a GP2 car were all very different. I need a few adjustments to be fully comfortable in the car for Wednesday but, generally, I am feeling good."

Senna will be forced to watch Honda's programme as di Grassi gets a full day behind the wheel today [Tuesday], before returning for his own complete session on day three of the test.

"Obviously, my full day is when everything will count, but I am very pleased with what I achieved today and, the more laps I do, the quicker I'll be - hopefully," he smiled, "It's been a great, great day for me and I am incredibly grateful to the Honda team for making it possible."

di Grassi, meanwhile, was able to bring experience of running with the Renault F1 team to his half-day in the Honda, and used his time behind the wheel to tune the RA108 to his driving style. Getting the worst of the track conditions, however, the former Macau F3 GP winner propped up the timesheets with a lap of 1min 25.512secs.

"One of us had to be the first out on track today and that was me but, this morning, the track was really very 'green' and took a while to improve," he reported, "The focus of my programme today was thus to get the best possible feeling for the car ahead of my full day tomorrow, [and it] has been a good experience.

"I ran with slick tyres for the first time, and in a car that is both new to me and which had a combination of 2008 and 2009 aero elements, so it was a totally new experience - but a very enjoyable one. Today, I have been using old tyres, running with low downforce and working through a variety of set-ups, [so] tomorrow will be a better test of what I am capable of."

Regular Honda test driver Alex Wurz set the benchmark for the two Brazilians by lapping third fastest, behind the two Toro Rossos, in 1min 21.198secs, while Jenson Button will partner di Grassi on day two.

"It was nice to see the two young guys in action with Honda today," Wurz commented, "Both understood the car very quickly, but how they develop from here with a full day in the car will be important."

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment