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Part 1 Bruno Senna: what’s in a name?


A young Brazilian driver named Senna is taking his place on the grid in a black and gold liveried Lotus Renault F1 car. It is his second season in the sport, and after moving from a backmarker team this is Senna’s chance to make a name himself. History is repeating itself.

Twenty-six years ago Ayrton Senna cemented his reputation as one of the greatest racers of all time. The three time world champion won the second race of his second season in a Renault powered Lotus and demonstrated the talent and fearlessness that had him labelled a legend of the sport. His tragic death in 1994 while giving his all in the Williams Renault FW16 robbed the sport of a superstar but cemented his name, reputation and greatness in its lore.

Fast-forward 26 years and Ayrton’s nephew, Bruno Senna, is going through all of the motions of being a young driver in the sport; in addition to the acrimonious duty of living up to that surname.

Like Hill, Villeneuve, Rosberg, Piquet, Nakajima and even Ralf Schumacher, Bruno Senna has been blessed by having a name that opens doors in Formula One. It’s worked for some, and failed miserably for others, and now it’s Senna’s turn to make the name his own.

By dumping the experienced Nick Heidfeld for Bruno Senna, Renault is essentially opting for two paydrivers. It was only five seasons ago the team was wrapping up its second consecutive driver’s and constructor’s title, but as the world’s financial markets and the automotive industry stared into a bleak future, the fortunes of the racing team drove into it at speed. If the performance drop was not enough for the team, the ramifications of 2008’s crashgate certainly demonstrated that Renault had not only fallen from Formula One’s top tier – they had jumped off it headfirst without a parachute.

In any other season it is hard to imagine Nick Heidfeld lining up for Renault. Although his Formula One employment has had its share of Lazarus moments in 2004, 2005 and 2010, for 2011 it looked like it would be a return to the testing cockpit for the barbate German. Instead, the timing of Robert Kubica’s severe pre-season injury left Renault with very few options of available race drivers. With all the other teams securing their race and test drivers, Heidfeld’s poor luck had turned 180 degrees. In a head-to-head test with Bruno Senna, Heidfeld did enough to persuade Renault’s decision makers that he was the man for the job.

At just over half-way through the season, Heidfeld’s diligence in the number 9 car has not been glittering – even if those within the sport understand it says more for the car than it does his ability. Still, before the Belgian Grand Prix he sat above his team-mate Vitaly Petrov in the driver’s championship and matched the young Russian’s Melbourne heroics with his own third place in the following Malaysian GP.

The short-term nature of Heidfeld’s role at Renault was highlighted when he signed for the team at the beginning of the season. He would be driving the car until Kubica returned, and though the team has spoken of their disappointment in his qualifying performances of late, Kubica’s injury would all but guarantee him a job for the remainder of the season. However this deal has clearly erred on the side of briskness. From Belgium onward he has been replaced by the man he beat in pre-season testing for the same seat, the man whose moniker is more marketable; Bruno Senna.

It’s not unfair to state that Bruno Senna’s Formula One career has been less than stellar. A strong second place in the 2008 season GP2 demonstrated that he had talent and deserved attention in his own right. He beat a number of other drivers who have since found their way into Formula One, but when it came joining them on the grid, he could not translate his talent into results. His debut season which was spent in-and-out of Hispania Racing’s backmarker cars did not earn him many plaudits. At the Italian Grand Prix Senna was partnered with the relative veteran Christian Klien, a driver with extensive testing experience, but who had not raced since his sacking at Red Bull Racing in 2006. Senna’s reputation took a massive hit as Klien’s qualifying time usurped his by over a second – a feat that hurt Senna more than it helped Klien. For the final two races Klien joined Senna again. He out-qualified him again in Brazil, but in Abu Dhabi, Senna edged out the Austrian and took his place one spot ahead of him on the grid. At the end of 2010 Senna and Hispania parted ways, with both feeling like they could do better for themselves.
revver
Nice write-up, Bruno's career might also have been hampered by his hiatus from competing, due to his uncle's death I believe. Let's see how he performs in the remaining races
08.09.2011 @ 09:55
lewis
Part 2 is here www.autoviva.com/member.php It was too long for the post. Is there a mod that can fix this?
08.09.2011 @ 09:58
philljonson33
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28.05.2022 @ 18:36
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