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.