Williams have finally confirmed that Bruno Senna will race for the team in 2012. The Brazilian joins Pastor Maldonado in the team's lineup, and returns the Senna name to the cockpit of a Williams-Renault for the first time since 1994.
Senna replaces compatriot Rubens Barrichello in the team, who now looks set to be left without a drive after 19 consecutive seasons on the grid.
After finishing runner-up in the GP2 Series in 2008, Senna had been reportedly set to replace Barrichello in the Honda team, before the Japanese manufacturer withdrew from the sport. Senna finally secured a race seat for HRT in 2010, but the car was uncompetitive. He found himself back on the sidelines at the start of 2011, but was promoted from reserve to race driver at the Renault team. He scored his first points at the Italian Grand Prix.
“I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race drivers,” said Senna, who will make his debut for the team at the first test at Jerez on 9 February.
“The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good chapter in their history. The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season.
“It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton. Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too.
“I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today. I am very proud to be Brazilian and more motivated than ever to demonstrate what I can do. Ever since I first sat in a go-kart I never wanted to do anything else.”
Team principal Frank Williams explained that Senna had been signed following a thorough evaluation by the team.
“Bruno only started racing when he was 20 years old but quickly proved his talent in F3 and GP2,” said Williams. “In a tightly fought 2008 GP2 season, Bruno finished second in the Championship with notable victories in Monaco and Silverstone, the latter in the wet.
“The circumstances of Bruno's two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver. We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.”