Honda Racing F1 has confirmed that it will give 2008 GP2 Series runner-up Bruno Senna his first experience of a modern Formula One car when it evaluates the Brazilian's potential at the wheel of one of its RA108s in Barcelona later this month.

Senna, who finished second to Giorgio Pantano in GP2 this season, has tried his famous uncle's Lotus and McLaren machinery at demonstration events in the past, but will get the chance to stake his claim to a race seat in the top flight for 2009 when he joins Honda at its first test of the winter at the Circuit de Catalunya from 17-19 November.

Despite his comparative lack of experience in international motorsport - he started his single-seater career by testing an FBMW car in 2004 before racing F3 in 2005 - the Brazilian has been the subject of much speculation linking him to an F1 seat for 2009, initially with Scuderia Toro Rosso and BMW Sauber and, most strongly of late, with Honda.

The Barcelona test will include a chance for the 25-year old to familiarise himself with the car and its systems before progressing to a full programme during which the team will evaluate his performance, technical skill and ability to work with a large team organisation.

"We are delighted to provide Bruno with the opportunity to test for us later this month as we continue to explore all the driver options available to us for next season," team principal Ross Brawn, who has made no secret of the team's pursuit of Fernando Alonso, confirmed, "After an impressive year in GP2, this will be a chance for Bruno to prove that he is ready to make the step up to Formula One.

"Our objective is to have the best drivers available to us next season and our evaluation of Bruno's performance will be rigorous. We are looking forward to seeing how he performs. Over the next two weeks, Bruno will be spending a lot of time with us at our Brackley base, working closely with our engineers and on the simulator to ensure he is fully prepared for this important test."

Although the RA108 has been far from the best car in F1 this season, it will provide Senna with a chance to prove that he is worthy of a seat at Honda next season, although who he may replace remains far from clear. Jenson Button has hinted that his future is secure, with the rumour mill suggesting that the Briton will be confirmed at Honda once the identity of his team-mate is known, while veteran Rubens Barrichello - a prot?g? of Ayrton Senna in the early 1990s - insists that he is far from ready to retire and, having out-performed Button of late, reckons that he deserves to remain in the top flight.

Senna, meanwhile, is eager to show what he can do.

"I am obviously very excited about being given my first Formula One test, and to have that opportunity with Honda is a dream come true," he noted, aware that his uncle had a storied career with the Japanese marque.

"Although I am still only in my fourth year of motor racing, I have wanted to test an F1 car for a very long time and I feel that I am ready for that challenge. I have already spent some time at the factory in Brackley and have enjoyed meeting the team and working with the engineers to prepare for this test. Everyone has been very supportive and it is particularly special for me to have the chance to work with Ross Brawn.

"I'm excited about getting in the car in two weeks' time, but I know this is a big opportunity, so I want to learn as much as I can before I get to Barcelona. I hope to show the team what I can do, so it's up to me now to do a good job."

The build-up to Sunday's world championship showdown in Brazil again saw Senna's name being linked to Honda for next season, even though the driver himself was keen to play down speculation that a deal had already been signed.

"We are talking to people and everybody is only going to decide after this championship is over as they have their contracts to fulfil and they cannot do anything before that," Senna told Gulf Daily News, "It is no secret that I have been talking to Honda, Toro Rosso and other teams, but there is nothing signed yet with anyone. It is important for people to know that nothing is signed - and I have not signed a contract for next year."

Senna's chances of landing the second seat at Honda next season are rumoured to being improved by a number of sponsorship deals the Brackley team is lining up for 2009. Brazilian oil company Petrobras is already on board for next year, while paddock rumour at the Interlagos finale reckoned that Mexican communications company Telmex, which owns Senna's personal backer Embratel, was also in talks.



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