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Bruno Senna dropped for Sakon Yamamoto at Hispania – updated
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Bruno Senna dropped for Sakon Yamamoto at Hispania – updated
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jul 2010   |  11:57 am GMT  |  59 comments

Bruno Senna is in the paddock at Silverstone, but he’s not driving the Hispania Racing car this weekend, having been replaced by Japanese driver Sakon Yamamoto.


The team handled the change in a rather odd way, with rumours starting to emerge yesterday afternoon, and team principal Colin Kolles confirming it to the BBC last night.

I’m hearing from Spanish colleagues that it is only for one race and Senna will be in the car again in Germany and this has been confirmed by the team.

It appears not necessarily to be a money issue, although Yamamoto believed to have $5 million budget and the team needing money. I understand that there may be a disciplinary angle to this. A statement went out from the team this afternoon which said nothing about the reasons for the switch beyond them wanting to give one of the other drivers a go.

Senna’s deal with the team dates back to before the season, when the team was called Campos. It was based on the team being able to use the Senna name to attract sponsors. Senna and his family were not wanting to be obliged to provide budget for the drive.

Meanwhile it appears that the team may have acquired some of the assets of the Toyota team in Cologne. Serbian F1 aspirants Stefan GP had announced their intention to buy the Toyota chassis before the season, while more recently ART GP looked at buying the cars for a potential entry next season as the 13th team.

ART have officially withdrawn now from the race for the 13th franchise, citing unfavourable economic conditions.

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59 Comments
  1. Andy C says:

    That is a shame for Bruno, as I think he is genuinely talented and the HRT car isnt strong at present.

    It could however do him some good in the longer term if he gets another test driver role (whether Simulator or Friday testing).

    A japanese pilot taking over from someone with genuine talent (sounds a little like MotoGP at the moment too)?

    I guess being pragmatic for HRT, $5 million of sponsorship will go a long way towards helping them close the gap on the established teams.

    1. JimmiC says:

      “I guess being pragmatic for HRT, $5 million of sponsorship will go a long way towards helping them close the gap on the established teams.”

      Assuming said driver has the talent to handle the car and doesn’t bin £4.5million of it in tyre walls.

      1. Andy C says:

        Lol. Agreed

      2. Brace says:

        Hahah, good one! :)

  2. Ray says:

    It’s a shame that Bruno hasn’t had a better shot at proving himself in a worthwhile car – but then you could say that about Karun, who has had an even worse time of it, yet still IMO fared better.

    Still, for the smaller teams, where driver skill is something of a moot point, the best quality you can have is a big wallet behind you, to help develop the car.

    Sure Yamamoto will still probably be propping up the grid as Senna was, but at least he brings $5m worth of research and development to the car.

    It’s a no brainer, sadly.

    1. debora marsh says:

      Doesn’t bode well for Karun either this as he has openly admired the team are talking to other drivers with more money than him. Therefore I could see him being dropped as well.

  3. Peter says:

    Rather a 3rd car from teams like Ferrari, McLaen, Mercedes or Red bull than new teams like Hispania R.

    1. Kedar says:

      Exactly, This seems more like soap box derby to me than Grand prix racing.

      1. Brent says:

        Building an F1 team takes time. Twelve years from Stewart to Red Bull, start to contender. That’s what F1 should be, an opportunity at the top level. The next Newey or Brawn may be working in the backrooms at one of the start up teams.

      2. monktonnik says:

        I am sorry, that isn’t true.

        I actually watched all the sessions from different points at Silverstone this weekend the new teams looked (and sounded) good. Even with the bigger teams running close by it is not that obvious that the are significantly slower.

        Yes, they are in fact slower, but no more so than some of the teams from a few years ago.

    2. Carl Craven says:

      No thanks, we have enough Ferraris and Mclarens for one for one grid, and bear in mind, Red Bull were once a minnow team bought out with money. Maybe it will happen to Hispania or the other two.

      If you want to watch an all Ferrari race, buy some matchbox or Hotwheels.

      Back in the day, all the F1 teams were small, just guys with a garage and a passion. And those were the days when we saw real racing. Rather that than a whinging owner trying to coerce the rules to suit his team because they are not doing so well right now.

  4. Robyn says:

    I’m glad to hear he’s at least in the paddock. I’m just sick over this.

    Wasn’t Hispania supposed to have made their statement explaining themselves by now?

  5. Kirk says:

    Handled very poorly by the management of HRT – if that is how they conduct their business and treat people then modern F1 are better off without them. Bruno Senna shouldnt be told this through the media on a Thursday night… honestly.

    Ferrari president created a stir with the quote regarding some of the new F1 teams being GP2 level – and HRT are helping to prove he had a point, both on and off track.

    1. JimmiC says:

      “Handled very poorly by the management of HRT”

      There’s a joke somewhere in hear about being flustered, but I don’t want to make it for fear of being thrown in the town stocks by every woman under the sun.

  6. Freespeech says:

    Just another example of the dreadful Mosley era.
    It’s just a joke, no team should be allowed into F1 if they cannot afford it as it just dilutes what F1 is an d should be, i.e. the pinnacle of motor sport, the most advanced and flamboyant, all this budget cap rubbish is just that rubbish, let the teams run themselves I say and while we’re at it let’s get rid of the stupid engine freeze as it just denies us, the fans of another dimension to the complex nature and interest of what is F1.

    1. Matt says:

      Freespeech for FIA president!

    2. Rafael L says:

      I agree.

  7. Jon Wilde says:

    Hopefully we’ll get to see Bruno in a Sauber in time for Germany.

    Could HRT run the Toyota car in 2010? I guess under the gentleman’s agreement prohibiting more than one chassis homologation per year they won’t be allowed. would they?

    1. Andy C says:

      That would be excellent. I think we will start to see sauber getting it together.

      Bruno will be back. Pedro has done nothing really. But the he did his time at mclaren so deserves a season to show what he can do.

  8. jonrob says:

    The whole thing is about money, not talent.

    1. Carl Craven says:

      Welcome to F1

  9. James T says:

    Well, if they need the money, they need the money. It’s an unfortunate situation for Bruno though. His performance and pace have been excellent so far, and having the Senna name on a car must have been good for HRT’s commercial positioning.

    The positive is he’s free for another team, not that this is going to help him this year.

  10. pawelf1 says:

    Really a shame but not because he will not drive HRT but because no better team wants him

  11. stefmeister says:

    It may help the team financially but I think it will hurt them in terms of pace & development as Bruno has generally overall been the fastest driver in HRT most of the year & the only HRT driver to outqualify another team.

    I also gather than Bruno’s technical input is better than Yamamoto’s.

    Also considering that last time Yamamoto was in F1 he tended to crash a lot so he could end up costing HRT just as much as he’s bringing.

    Its a shame for Bruno as I think he’s been doing a solid job this year considering what he’s been given.

    A bit of speculation that I’ve seen mentioned a couple times this season is that Colin Kolles has been looking to put his good friend Christijan Albers in the car. Albers drives for Kolles Le Mans Series team & I think has some Dutch backing.

    Another bit of speculation I’ve seen around is that Pedro De La Rosa’s drive isn’t totally secure & that Peter Sauber had been looking at Bruno Senna for the future.

  12. James says:

    It’s sad that a talented driver gets dropped simply because someone else can afford to give more money to the team – buying your drive is not what F1 is supposed to be about. But I suppose there’s no way around it when it comes to small teams struggling to stay in the game.

    James – unrelated to this topic, but I’m constantly hearing/reading F1 journalists and experts talking up the McLaren simulator, saying it’s the best by far blah blah.

    I think I remember Alonso saying in 2007 that the McLaren simulator made the Renault one seem like a playstation game by comparison…

    Any chance of a feature on F1 simulators? I’d love to know what exactly they look like, how they differ from team to team, and how the teams use them to test parts that haven’t had track time yet etc…

    just a thought :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes I’m hoping to do one, but the McLaren one is the most off limits of all of them. Even many team members haven’t seen it

      1. Kratos says:

        Eagerly awaiting that..:D

      2. Michael Grievson says:

        Wow. top secret stuff. I gather because of “spygate” its even more off limits now. Someone disctract the guards and I’ll grab the keys :)

      3. Rafael L says:

        That is quite incredible.

      4. JimmiC says:

        Could yourself and your sponsors club together to allow one of us to win a simulator of our own? The lucky winner could have it installed in their garage?

        (I jest, but still dream wistfully..)

      5. S.J.M says:

        That would be some great “into the Lions Den” stuff which would be fantastic!!

  13. Jonathan says:

    It is a shame for Bruno, but to be honest Karun has made him look a bit ordinary so far this season.

    1. Rafael L says:

      Totally agree. I’m glad HRT didn’t drop Karun simply because of the “Senna” name.

      Names only get you so far…

  14. Andrea says:

    Bruno is not the first driver who got sacked because of MoneySack-on Yamamoto… Ask Franck Montagny how he lost his race seat at Super Aguri in 2006. Guess what! Because of Mr. JapaneseRichBoy! Pffff…. :-S

    HRT should have never started this season – not without money, not without a proper staff, not without testing… They’ll be out at the end of the year.

    What happened with Bruno is also a warning for everyone: never trust Colin Kolles!!!

    Sadly he’s not the only one in F1 who you can’t trust… :-(

  15. Alex says:

    Bruno was never going to shine in a new so far off the pace. He was on a hiding to nothing really.

  16. ColinZeal says:

    Tough break for Senna, I don’t think either Hispania driver has been given a chance to show their capabilities so far.

    Good move purchasing Toyota assets, brings some hope to next years Hispania effort.

  17. MJL says:

    This is sad news indeed. Bruno Senna is a good young driver, with plenty of potential for the future. Given that he had a large gap in racing, following his uncle’s tragic death, he has matured into a strong driver since his move to single seaters a few yrs ago. I think he deserves a crack at a more competitive team, maybe a Heidfeld-Senna partnership would suit Sauber next yr?

  18. Ben G says:

    HRT, RIP.

  19. Andrew Myers says:

    Incredibly disappointing for Bruno. I really would have liked to see him succeed.

    And to think how close he came to driving the championship winning car last season too.

    Hopefully we will see him in F1 car again very soon.

    James I think there was talk about Stefan GP running a Japanese driver if they made the grid. Is this part of the Toyota “package”?

  20. Elly says:

    I’m waiting for HRT’s explanations! How could they do this to Bruno right before the racing weekend?! Shame on them! Bruno is really talented and just haven’t had the opportunity to prove it because of the extreemly bad car! Is money the only decisive factor in the modern F-1?

  21. Brace says:

    This really sucks. I still remember that The Great Ayrton believed Bruno is a huge talent and it’s shame he wasn’t given a fair chance to prove himself.

  22. So its a one race deal now. Please tell whatever team needs a sponsor that RIM owner Jim Balsile (Blackberry) is all for throwing $ at sports franchises, inform him of the better investment F1 is compared to hockey and you’ll be all set. Vodafone and Virgin use Blackberry if I’m not mistaken, so he HAS the money to sponsor anyone. HRT, Sauber, anyone. Call him up. $5M for a 1 race deal seems a bit ridiculous.

  23. Ben says:

    For some reason, I find all the back-of-the-grid shenanigans more interesting than the slick stuff up front.

    Has there ever been a season in F1 history where there were no driver changes at all?

  24. stefmeister says:

    HRT have announced that Bruno will be in the car for the remainder of the season. They say they simply wanted to give Yamamoto an opportunity for the British Gp.

  25. Richard says:

    James,

    You mentioned a disciplinary aspect to this late change. Care to elaborate?

    1. James Allen says:

      Trying to find out. That came from the Spanish side of the team

  26. alejandro says:

    Hi James, what do you mean with “disciplinary angle”? Is Senna being punished for talking back to Kolles or something?

  27. Rob Jackson says:

    So, to clarify, Bruno has lost the race drive for the forseeable, not just for this weekend?

    And what did you mean by there being a disciplinary angle James?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, he’s back in the car in Germany. Not sure yet on the disciplinary question…

  28. M__E says:

    He’s probably depressed after Brazils exit from the WC, and they are waiting for the WC to end on sunday and he gets back on track!

  29. Matt says:

    I can see it being a short term financial issue but the fact is that if it was going to be either driver to make way it would be Bruno.

    Karun has outperformed him more often and has had much less time or experience. I’m sorry that the Senna name isn’t enough to deserve him a seat, you also need talent.

    1. Richard M says:

      Senna has outqualified Chandock 7-2 this season and has been ahead of him in the races, he has just had worse luck regarding car reliabilty. And as for experience he has only lost out on free practice at Bahrain that is it and you could argue has could have an edge because he has come straight from GP2 while Senna has had a year out of open wheel racing. It is mystifying why he has been dropped, only reason I can think of is disciplinary issues, any other reason and they would not of left it until last night to do it.

    2. F1_Dave says:

      thats actually incorrect, karun has not been outperforming bruno. bruno has been ahead of chandhok far more than chandhoks been ahead of senna.

      sennas been the faster of the 2 in more practice sessions & has outqualified Karun 8 times out of the 9 races. bruno has also been the only one of the 2 to qualify ahead of another team in outright speed.

      1. F1_Dave says:

        ‘outqualified Karun 8 times out of the 9 races’

        sorry,meant to say that sennas outqualified chandhok 7 times out of the 9 races.

  30. Andy says:

    Think this sounds like a death rattle for HRT

  31. JimmiC says:

    Is Toyota now being sold piecemeal, or is there an outside chance of them returning to F1 through the back door (so to speak) – like the assimilation of Sauber by BMW?

    I’m guessing there is more to it than the flippant image I have in my head, but I’m thinking of a car boot sale on the grass outside Toyota HQ and all the team bosses eyeing up bits of the car – Martin Whitmarsh and Christian Horner fighting over a brake pad.

  32. Colm says:

    Sort of a poor way of handling a disciplinary matter though, don’t you think? It is very behind-you-back, yet embarrasingly public. Not exactly what you’d want your brand associated with, should you be a HRT sponsor, or a Senna.

  33. F1_Dave says:

    i have heard from an exceptionally reliable source who knows a guy within HRT that the reason senna was dropped for this weekend was actually because of problems which started with chandhok’s funding.

    some funding which chandhok’s sponsors were due to pay was not paid & a backer of yamamoto promised $1.5m if he was put in the seat. the team thus planned to replace chandhok untill his funding came through.

    however chandhok’s backers got the money to HRT on Wednesday evening or at least made a deal which ensured Chandhok remained in the car.

    However HRT bosses wanted the $1.5m Yamamoto had so worked a deal to replace Senna (Who is a paid driver & doesnt bring sponsors to the team) for 1 race & have yamamoto run in more friday practice sessions inorder to get the aforementioned $1.5m.

  34. Ricky says:

    I think it’s a disgrace that F1 – as the pinacle of the sport – allows drivers to virtually buy a race. Surely it should mainly be on talent and if you cannot prove at the start of the season your ability to sustain yourself financially you shouldn’t be racing at all. Having to raise funds in this way makes F1 look amature.

    A smaller, and new team, like HRT should especially be ficnacially viable and committed to talent development rather than giving seats for funds.

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