Williams F1 today announced that Bruno Senna, nephew of former Williams driver Ayrton Senna, has joined the team to partner Pastor Maldonado for the 2012 season.
The news appears to put an end to Rubens Barrichello’s career in F1, spanning almost two decades. And it leaves just one seat open on the F1 grid, the second seat at HRT.
Senna was long rumoured to be favourite for the drive ahead of his fellow Brazilian, with the CEO of one of his sponsors, a Brazilian oil company, tweeting last week that he would drive for the team.
Senna did an unhappy year with HRT in 2010 and half a season with Lotus Renault GP last year, impressing on his first outing at Spa by qualifying seventh. He scored two points – his first in F1 – at the next race in Monza.
Sir Frank Williams says that his team has done a thorough evaluation of Senna’s abilities on the simulator and believes that all he needs is the right opportunity to show what he can do.
“The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver, ” said Williams. “We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently. Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.”
The presence of the name Senna on the side of a Williams Renault is going to be evocative for many fans of the sport. His uncle was killed at the wheel of a Williams and it remains the most painful episode in the team’s modern history.
“It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton,” said Senna. “Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too. I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.