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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
15/08/2013

 

Biography

 
In 1993, three-time world champion Ayrton Senna told reporters: "If you think I'm fast, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno".

Like his surname, the comment from the legendary three-time champion, has proved to be something of a millstone around the neck of young Bruno who, as a nipper, would race against his Uncle in his go-kart.

In the aftermath of Ayrton's death at Imola in 1994, Bruno's mother Viviane (Ayrton's sister) put the youngster's karting activities on hold. A year later, when his father was killed in a motor-cycle accident, Viviane put a permanent block on her son's motor sport dream.

Ten years on and Viviane relented giving Bruno permission to head to England, the country where Ayrton had first come to the racing public's attention.

Starting out in Formula BMW UK with Carlin Motorsport, Bruno contested six rounds before switching to the prestigious British F3 Championship in 2005 - his Uncle having won the championship twenty-two years earlier in 1983.

Driving for the Raikkonen Robertson Team, Bruno finished tenth overall, his best results being second-places at the Nurburgring and Silverstone.

He remained with the team in 2006 this time finishing third overall courtesy of five wins including one at Donington - scene of arguably one of his Uncle's finest ever performances, the 1993 European GP.

Like his legendary Uncle, Bruno was no slouch in the wet, taking wins at both Oulton Park and Mugello in atrocious conditions.

The season was not without incident however, and Bruno was involved in a vicious accident at Snetterton when he touched wheels with Salvador Duran at 150 mph on the main straight. Bruno's car went airborne before launching into a series of cartwheels and subsequently landing on a safety barrier and sliding along it for over a hundred yards. Amazingly he walked away from the accident but his was car was a total wreck and he had to miss the second race of the day. Amongst the wreckage littered across the Norfolk track was the car's rear wing emblazoned with the logo for the Ayrton Senna Foundation.

Also in 2006, Bruno contested the F3 support race at the Australian Grand Prix - winning three of the four races - and drove a Porsche in the Supercup event at Monaco, the track synonymous with his Uncle.

For 2007, having made no secret of the fact that he wanted to be in F1 by 2009, Bruno moved up to GP2 securing a seat with Christian Horner's Arden International.

Finishing the season eighth overall many might say that it was a good effort from the Brazilian especially as this was only his third full season of single-seater racing. However, while there were some excellent performances there were also too many needless mistakes.

He remained in GP2 for 2008 but moved to Paul Jackson's iSport International. This season was altogether better with the Brazilian finishing runner-up to Giorgio Pantano courtesy of six trips to the podium including two wins. However, surely no win was ever more poignant than that in the feature race at Monaco, the first time in 15 years that a Senna had held a winners' trophy aloft in the Principality.

In November 2008, Bruno underwent two days of testing with the Honda F1 team at Barcelona. Competitive times, which saw the Brazilian just 0.3s off Jenson Button' pace, suggested that he might realise his dream and be in F1 for 2009. A few weeks later however, Honda unexpectedly pulled the plug on its F1 programme.

Linked with the Brackley team throughout the winter as it sought a buyer, when Ross Brawn led a management buy-out and retained his 2008 line-up Bruno was forced to look elsewhere.

Not wishing to return to GP2, Bruno initially tested with the AMG Mercedes DTM team but subsequently decided he didn't want to do the entire series.

After testing an Oreca LMP1, Bruno joined the team for the Le Mans 24-hour race and the Le Mans Series. At the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe, Bruno - who was partnered by Stephane Ortelli and Tiago Monteiro - retired after 219 laps officially classified as 41st.

When the FIA revealed the identities of the new teams for the 2010 Formula One World Championship it was unsurprising that Bruno was at one time or another linked with all of them.

However, Bruno admitted that for sentimental reasons he was unwilling to consider Lotus since this was the team with which his Uncle had made his name, though in reality other than its name the Malaysian outfit had little in common with Colin Chapman's legendary team.

When Campos Meta announced that it had signed Bruno in late 2099, the Spanish outfit proclaimed that "sometimes dream come true".

Well, the 'dream' soon became a nightmare, as Campos Meta gave way to Hispania Racing Team and it became clear just how badly it was prepared and financed.

Bruno's first laps in the Hispania F110 were in the opening practice session in Bahrain, the youngster's car having only been completed in the final half of the session. In the second session he completed 17 laps before sliding off the track with a loose wheel, his best time being over 11s off the pace.

A water leak saw him retire after just seventeen laps of the race while in Australia he lasted just four laps before a hydraulics problem sidelined him.

Following finishes in Malaysia and China there was a string of retirements in the next four outings and while he finished in Valencia he was dropped at the last moment in favour of Sakon Yamamoto at Silverstone.

While it was vehemently denied, the decision to bring in Yamamoto was about money, and while Bruno was back in the car for the next race his teammate Chandhok wasn't so lucky, the Indian losing his drive for the rest of the season.

Despite the fact that F1 now had twelve teams there remained a dearth of seats, and for much of the off-season it looked as though Bruno's only hope of remaining in the sport in 2011 was with Hispania. However, on January 7 the team issued a brief statement announcing that the Brazilian was no longer with it.

In the wake of Robert Kubica's horrific rallying accident, Bruno was invited to test for the Lotus Renault GP team at Barcelona however, despite a good performance the team opted to rely on the experience of Nick Heidfeld. Nonetheless, Bruno did at least secure the role of test and reserve driver which, in anyone's book, had to be better than sitting in a Hispania.

Mid-summer, amidst claims of problems between Nick Heidfeld and team boss Eric Boullier, there was talk that Bruno might be called up to replace the German.

Sure enough, the Brazilian took part in the Friday practice session in Hungary, the last race weekend before the summer break, reappearing as Vitaly Petrov's teammate when the season resumed in Belgium almost six weeks later.

Although he qualified a highly impressive seventh, Bruno let himself down next day when his over enthusiasm got the better of him when he carried far too much speed into the first corner and took out Jaime Alguersuari. Though he was able to continue, Bruno was handed a drive-through penalty and subsequently finished the race thirteenth.

He was impressive again in qualifying at Monza, this time taking tenth on the grid. However, once again his race was compromised at the start, this time he being the innocent victim (of Tonio Liuzzi).

To be totally fair, Bruno came into the team at a time when it was clear the R31 was nowhere near the car the team thought it to be. Indeed, in November, technical director James Allison described the car, not least its revolutionary exhaust system, as a brave experiment that failed. The car struggled on certain circuits and no more so than in Singapore, a new low for the team.

While Petrov was out in Q1, Bruno managed to take fifteenth on the grid, though he was unable to improve his position in the race. Meanwhile, slowly but surely Force India was closing in, eager to secure fifth place in the standings.

In the next couple of races, Bruno finished sixteenth (Japan), thirteenth (Korea) and twelfth (India), continuing to give his teammate a run for his money in qualifying and occasionally on Sunday afternoons.

In Abu Dhabi, Bruno again finished sixteenth after receiving a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags and suffering a KERS failure, while in his home race he out-qualified Petrov for the third time, starting ninth on the grid. Unfortunately, on the tenth lap of the race he was involved in a collision with Michael Schumacher, subsequently receiving a drive-through penalty and finishing seventeenth.

With Renault - soon to be re-named Lotus F1 Team - opting for an all-new line-up for 2012, Bruno was forced to look elsewhere.

As the few remaining seats slowly filled his options looked more and more limited. The one possible was Williams, however, he was in competition with Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov and Adrian Sutil.

The loss of title sponsor AT&T at the start of the year clearly moved things in favour of the drivers with the best backing - Bruno and Petrov - and on 17 January the Brazilian was confirmed as Pastor Maldonado's teammate.

In all honesty, Senna's recruitment at Williams, while clearly about money, also had a lot to do with certain dewy eyed individuals, particularly in the media, who wanted it to happen. Eyes still moist after watching endless reruns of the movie (Senna) about his legendary Uncle, what could be better than to see young Bruno in a car that still carries his name (logo).

Looking ahead to 2012 we wrote: "Until now Bruno has never really impressed, never really grabbed the attention. We are reminded how his Uncle described him yet one has to ask oneself when has one ever watched Bruno and actually found oneself agreeing with Ayrton, admitting 'yes, this guy is special'. Also, if he is so good, why is he paying for a drive, why are no teams beating a path to his door?

While on paper Williams finished just one place higher in 2012 than it did in 2011, this doesn't come anywhere close to indicating the massive turnaround made by the Grove outfit. 5 points scored in 2011 became 76 just a year later.

Neither driver was particularly consistent not just across the season but across weekends. Admittedly, Bruno was more consistent than his teammate however, it was his pace - or lack of it - that really disappointed. Although popular with fans and fellow drivers, the Brazilian simply wasn't convincing.

His first points for the team came in Malaysia, though many believe, based on the conditions, he could have finished even higher (than sixth). That said, the 8 point he scored were more than his team had earned in the entire previous season - job done!

While Maldonado was winning the Spanish Grand Prix - the Grove outfit's first victory in eight seasons - Bruno was tangling with Michael Schumacher. To compound a lousy day for the Brazilian his car subsequently caught fire in the garage (post race) the ensuing inferno hospitalising four team members.

At Spa, the ultimate drivers' circuit Bruno scored his first ever fastest lap in F1 - albeit after a late puncture dropped him from 8th to 12th.

In late November, the Grove outfit confirmed Valtteri Bottas as Maldonado's teammate for 2013, Bruno bravely responding by saying there were no hard feelings.

Maybe it is that 'niceness' that characterises the likeable Brazilian, he's too nice, certainly for F1. Although linked with a number of drives as the season approaches the options are severely limited and in all honesty Bruno might be best served by looking elsewhere.

Statistics - at the end of 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 3
Grand Prix: 46
Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 1

Best result in 2012: 6th (Malaysia)
Best qualifying 2012: 9th (Hungary)
Worst qualifying 2012: 18th (2 times)

2012: Out-qualified Pastor Maldondo 2 times
2012: Out-qualified by Pastor Maldondo 18 times

2012: Completed 1054 out of 1192 laps (88.4%)
2012: Finished 18 times from 20 starts (90%)

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