After being announced earlier today as a Williams driver, Bruno Senna has been looking forward to the coming Formula 1 season and discussing how he will fit in at the team that was once home to his legendary uncle.
However, the Brazilian heads to a team that scored just five points in 2011, and endured their most torrid season in the sport. Senna, though, is optimistic that Williams‘ fortunes are on the rise.
“I'm really happy to be a part of a team with such a fantastic heritage,” he said. “I am very proud that Williams has chosen me to race in what will be an important year for them. Everyone is extremely motivated for 2012 and it is great to be part of that motivation.
“It is true that they didn't have the best season last year, but it is clear that the team is on a new path and everyone is pulling together to ensure that this year is a better one. I really hope that I can demonstrate what I can do, not only for the team, but for myself. It's going to be interesting to see what we can achieve together.”
“It's difficult to set objectives before the season starts, but I intend to push the car 100% to the limit to get the maximum performance we can from it,” he added.
Senna competed in eight races last season with Renault and, conincidentally, 2012 will mark the renewal a famous F1 partnership: the Williams chassis with and the Renault engine. The 28-year-old thinks it will be a valuable tool for the team:
“After a few races with the Renault engine in 2011, I've learnt a great deal about it,” he said. “It is a very good unit with good drivability, which is another positive step forward for the team. As a driver, you need to have every weapon available to you operating at its optimum in order to put in competitive times throughout the race. I'm sure we can develop the car even further with the Renault engine and it will be interesting for me to be able to give the team feedback applying my previous experiences.”
Another thing Senna will be relatively familiar with is new team-mate Pastor Maldonado. The two both competed in GP2 but, whilst Senna could only finish runner-up in 2008, Maldonado went one better in 2010, taking the title. Senna is full of praise for the Venezuelan, and forsees a tough intra-team battle with him this season.
“Pastor is a great driver,” he said. “I've raced against him in GP2 and we always get along well. He's been a very tough opponent in the past and he is going to be even tougher now we are both in the same car. We'll certainly be trying to beat each other, but as teammates we're going to work together to move the team forward.”
Although Williams have made us wait until mid-January for announcing who would fill their vacant race seat, it turns out that Senna has actually already made several trips to their factory in Oxfordshire. “I've been at the Williams factory in Grove both before and after Christmas being really put through my paces in the simulator, on the track and in the gym,” he revealed. “We've also done some evaluation work on the track (but not in an F1 car).
The main purpose was for the team to evaluate me and to understand how to get the best out of me as a driver. But it's also been really useful for me as it familiarises me with all the procedural things, such as learning the layout of the steering wheel before I get into the real car. When we start testing I won't need to think about that so I'll just be able to get on and drive the FW34.”
“I think [my engineers and I] started off really well and now I'm looking forward to working with them more over the season,” he continued. “The relationship between a driver and engineer is something that few people can understand. You need mutual respect, to understand each other well and know how to work together in order to really gel from the start. That relationship and continuity can make such a difference to your overall performance.”
Of course, it is inevitable that Senna will continue to be asked about his uncle and, now he is at one of Ayrton’s former teams, he was also drawn to comment on that.
“It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle drove for,” he said. “Quite a few of the people still here actually worked with Ayrton and I'm happy that they are now giving me the chance to prove myself here. Hopefully we can bring back some good memories and create some great new ones too.”
“I hope that by the end of 2012 we can say we extracted 100% of the performance from the Williams-Renault FW34, whatever that may be,” he concluded. “That is the most important thing. I just want to get the maximum possible out of the car and make the most of this opportunity. It is such an important year for both the team and myself as it will help shape my future. I hope that future will be long and successful, and it all starts here.”