Bruno Senna has insisted that – should Honda sign him up for the 2009 campaign – he wants to make his own name in Formula 1 to prove that he has not just been given the break on the basis of his uncle's reputation.
The Brazilian got his first taste of Formula 1 action when he tested alongside compatriot and fellow GP2 Series front-runner Lucas di Grassi in Barcelona this week. For his maiden outing in a car with so much power, Senna admitted that to begin with he had been somewhat over-awed – but over the course of 146 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya aboard the big-budget Japanese manufacturer's RA108, he acquitted himself extremely well and made impressive progress.
Lopping almost a full three seconds off his fastest effort from the first day to the last, the nephew of legendary three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton ended up with the 13th-best time to his name of the 23 drivers present throughout, less than three tenths of a second shy of team regular and former grand prix winner Jenson Button and – perhaps vitally – some six tenths quicker than di Grassi managed.
“It was great fun,” Senna enthused of his try-out, in an interview with the official Formula 1 website. “I was really enjoying myself. It was such a different experience from everything I have done before. It was quite a special opportunity that Honda gave me.
“The car is such a big step-up from GP2, as it has a much better gearshift, a much better engine and much better aerodynamics – everything is a step-up. It is very hard to explain why it takes a while for you as a driver to adapt to the car; the fact is that what you expect from the car is so very different.
“It was all about getting involved with the car. There are so many switches and in the beginning it was quite a task to work them, and then get accustomed to all the procedures that Formula 1 has. I found that surprisingly easy, though. Somehow you get in the car and almost at first glance know where all the buttons are and know what to do with them – and of course I had to find out how the slick tyres work.
“I can say that it was a very good first try, because I didn't have much pressure to perform. The team just asked me to get involved with the car and build a connection with the team. That is what I did. It is a big chance and I felt very comfortable. It was very, very special!”
The 25-year-old – who finished as runner-up to former F1 ace Giorgio Pantano in the GP2 feeder category this year – took to the track in a car modified to simulate expected downforce and balance levels in the light of the new technical and aerodynamic regulations being introduced into the top flight in 2009, and he acknowledged that the lower downforce had probably made the graduation less of a jump.
Whilst admitting to having made the odd error here and there as he pushed 'to find the limit', Senna underlined that he was pleased with the lap times he had produced once he had got comfortable in the car – and sought to stress that should he follow in his uncle's footsteps in driving for Honda at the pinnacle of world motorsport, he will be doing so entirely onto his own terms.