Word on the street is that Bruno Senna will replace Nick Heidfeld in the Renault F1 team, and that it may happen as soon as this weekend’s GP at Spa.
If Senna does get the gig at Renault, then I for one will be delighted. Because although he’s not exactly creaking with old age, time was just starting to run out for Ayrton’s nephew – yet according to those in the know he’s very much a chip off the old block inside the cockpit of a Formula One racing car.
I remember talking to his manager, Chris Goodwin, before this season started, when Senna’s testing deal with Renault had yet to be announced. Goodwin was bubbling with excitement and was chuffed to bits that he’d landed his man ‘a proper job, with a proper team’ having been mucked about so poorly by HRT the year before.
He reminded me of a series of events that took place at the beginning of 2009, when the Brawn team was still in its embryonic stages. The team was pre-season testing at Barcelona, and driving alongside one J. Button for the day was, guess who, Bruno Senna.
In an eerily familiar repeat of Ayrton’s first serious go in an F1 car, Bruno drove the car for just one session, apparently, whereas Jenson drove it several times throughout the day. Both of them discovered the car to be fantastically quick compared with the rest of the teams who were testing that day. And both of them set identical times. Bruno Senna, in other words, was as quick as Jenson Button – in a car and on a circuit that Button knew far better than he.
Who knows what might have happened had Senna been given the race seat at Brawn that year? In the end, and because Ross Brawn wanted experience in the cockpit and not youth (understandably so given that it was the most expensive F1 car in history), Barrichello got the drive instead. And that was that.
It was, as they say, one of those close-but-no-cigar moments for Bruno Senna. Now, though, it looks like he will at last get ‘a proper chance, with a proper team.’ Which just seems appropriate somehow, all things being equal and considered.
And to give you a taste as to what it might be like, watching Bruno Senna drive a Renault at Spa, click on this link and take a look. Or alternatively, go to You Tube and type in 'Bruno Senna at Spa'. It’s one of the more amusing in-car videos you’ll see, especially the bit where he goes through Eau Rouge, flat out, the wrong way round!