Bruno Senna has described his maiden LMP1 outing with Team Oreca-Matmut at Paul Ricard this week as 'very enriching' – and he admitted that, in the absence of any openings in Formula 1, he may consider a sportscar switch in 2009.
The young Brazilian was invited to try out for the French outfit by team boss Hugues de Chaunac as soon as it became evident that he was no longer likely to graduate to F1 with Brawn GP (formerly Honda) this year, and Senna joined regular drivers Stéphane Ortelli and Soheil Ayari in the cockpit of the #10 Courage LC70E prototype for an endurance simulation, over the course of which no fewer than 324 laps were covered.
“Coming here I've discovered a totally different world,” revealed the reigning GP2 Series runner-up, “and I feel I'm a better driver for it. This test has been very enriching.
“The team asked me to help with the set-up work, and I had to manage tyre and fuel consumption. I did my first-ever night stint too! It's all very different to what I've known before, and I really appreciated this experience.
“I liked it and I'd love to do it again! While my aim is still to do Formula 1, I said to myself that long-distance racing could be something really great.”
It is understood that Senna is number one on de Chaunac's wish list for the forthcoming campaign, with only 2008 incumbents Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre already confirmed at the team. The French pairing were unrivalled over the course of the two-day test, with the former Monaco Grand Prix winner's 1:40.903s effort early on Monday morning proving to be out of reach for any of the other 26 competitors present, as Panis shows himself to be every bit as adept behind the wheel of a sportscar as he was in F1.
“The test's gone off very well,” reported the 42-year-old Crash.net
columnist, with 300 laps on the clock for the #11 machine that took in a development programme, new brakes and an engine evolution from AIM. “Running with the other cars gives us a good idea of where we stand.
“There's still work to be done, but we're now starting to use the car's potential. We're getting to understand it better and better, and the new engine's an improvement at high revs.
“Overall, it's very positive both from a development and reliability point-of-view. We know where we are and we can't wait to be in Barcelona. It's going to be a closely-fought championship for which we've got great ambitions.”