Bruno Senna is a man looking for race wins, that most precious currency for drivers.
The Brazilian was, almost certainly, the surprise name in the 12 strong driver line-up Aston Martin Racing has engaged to drive its fleet of four GTE V8 Vantages in this season’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
“It was a great surprise for us,” he confides, speaking to www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk at the West London launch of the new GTE racer and AMR’s racing plans for their centenary year. He goes on to explain the unusual way his joining the team came around.
“We were looking at different options for to try and achieve for this year and my physio, James Milligan, knows Darren Turner and they spoke maybe 10 days ago, maybe less than that, but we got in touch with the team very quickly and managed to get everything turned around.”
“[The move came together] very, very late and very, very quickly as well. Obviously we were very excited because we could agree to all the terms very quickly and in motor racing it’s not always that easy.”
While Turner and Stefan Mucke continue as AMR driver, with the expansion to four cars for the WEC – and a fifth lying in wait in the reserve list at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – new names surround them on the roster. In the first of the two LMGTE Pro cars Turner and Mucke share with one such new name – Peter Dumbreck, while in the other 2013 car Senna is flanked by fellow newcomers to the Aston Martin works team, though with more GT experience elsewhere.
Senna will share the #99 with Fred Makoweicki – part of the Hexis team that ran Astons in both the FIA GT3 European Championship and the FIA GT1 World Championship – and Rob Bell, late a part of the McLaren GT3 squad.
“I just met Fred for the first time today,” Senna explains. “Rob I’ve seen before but I’ve never got to talk to him. I’m going to leave it for the test days to see live what they can do and then try and get some of their secrets for myself.”
Though he admits he may have something to learn about GT racing, Senna is no stranger to endurance racing, having briefly been part of the ORECA LMP1 team in 2009, a deal that took him to Le Mans before he entered Formula One in 2010.
His moving back away from F1 after competing to Williams is, perhaps, a brave step, but Senna explains the move to Aston Martin was one motivated by a greater desire to win that simply remain in F1, with all the opportunities – he levels – a step down from where he was last season.
He is not the first young F1 driver to leave the single-seater realm for a GT racing ride. Look no further than the man who succeeded him at Renault/Lotus – Romain Grosjean. However, unlike the Frenchman, for whom the dalliance in the GT1 World Championship was only ever going to be a brief time away from single-seaters (less than a year in hindsight) Senna is open to a longer-term future in GT racing, and with Aston Martin Racing, enthusing that, though his current agreement is only a short term one “this could be my home for many years”.
He adds; “This is an awesome opportunity to come and race for a race winning team and a great brand like Aston Martin these guys have the experience they have the race winning ways and that’s what I’m here for.”
“I’m super excited about it. I haven’t been in the car yet so I’m really looking forward to sitting in the car and getting it smoking it a little bit. But it’s very different from what I’ve done before so I have so much to learn and I think I’m going to need all the help from the team and the other drivers to try and maximise the car but we have a strong line-up of drivers and we’ll be challenging for podiums and race wins.”
Senna – and rest of the Aston Martin Racing team having a busy few months leading up to the opening WEC round – the Six Hours of Silverstone in April – with tests in the UK, Portugal and the US, as well as a two car entry into the 12 Hours of Sebring.