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Bruno Senna to race for Williams Renault
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Jan 2012   |  1:20 pm GMT  |  106 comments

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.

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Alan Westwood

Its a great pity that Rubens Barrichello was relaced by Bruno Senna as he could have been on the podium if not an outright winner today May 13 on the circuit Catalunya. He is still a great driver regardless of his age.


I wonder if he’ll be the second Senna not to score any points driving for Williams.


I can’t understand why all the negativity in theses situations. Driver changes are common place.

Rubens has had a good run and Williams would have learnt a great deal from him over the last two seasons.

Williams had a torrid season last year and can only improve hopefully with two young reasonable experienced drivers.

I also don’t like all the talk of Ayrton at Williams. He drove 3 races for them. The first two he didn’t finish and extremely sadly he along with two other drivers died at Imola that weekend.

Williams are a glorious historic team that sadly made one mistake and that was BMW. They were right to go manufacture route but the wrong one.


What are you rattling on about BMW being a bad move?? they were regular at the front with BMW with Montoya getting very close to the title, it was the switch to Toyota and Cosworth when the wheels fell off!! got to remember Renault left them up poop creek after the 97 season by suddenly departing F! leaving BMW to tinker about with a old Renault (under another name for obv reasons) engine whilst they developed a F1 engine again of there own which was quite successful as a engine unit.


The bad part about BMW is that they tried to get Williams tech out of them and when they supplied engines and Sir Frank said no you can’t have it.

Following year they suddenly pull out and start their own team.

Williams were left with no choice to take the Toyota deal and subsequently the same with Cosworth.


And the other options at the time were??? there performances have clearly slipped more so down to there own work rather than engine supplier BMW done a very good job for them having them with top 3 constructors twice and 2nd also within the 1st 3 years with there 1st new OWN engine in what 20 odd years which is spectrum 48k v Apple i pad in tech comparisons. Williams would have probably been BMW or Honda as such by yr 2000 if BMW had not come on board when and as they did anyway! Think this is going to be Williams most testing season ever in a lot of respects.


Maybe not and understandably why, But family values very much are and its not that far in history books alongside the fact in many peoples view he is the most amazing figure that has ever graced the sport of F1. All seems selfish bordering desperate can see the Williams appeal though to possibly somewhat cleanse there name from the history books!.

Adrian Newey Jnr

Williams were once a team that dictated terms to the best drivers and weren’t afraid to sack them if they got too pushy. Their car was quick enough with almost anyone driving it. To sink to the level of having two pay drivers matches them in my mind with HRT. Perhaps next year’s strategy is to intend to bid for Pedro’s services?

The best thing that can happen to this team is for it to be sold to some wealthy Arab kingdom like the top teams in the Premier League. This would give it the long term funding that it lacks and give them the ability to pay for decent drivers and slowly haul themselves up the ladder. To me signing Senna and collecting additional funding means that management has worked out that this year’s car will be uncompetitive and they need to build towards 2013. Having two pay drivers means they collect the money and have no obligation to be competitive. That way for 2013 they can sack Maldanado and insert Massa (who will be available) and perhaps unseat Senna with a promising junior.


People have been saying that Bruno hasn’t had the chance to really show what he can do, such as bad preparation, bad car…etc etc. Well now is his chance, make or break really.

Same goes for Daniel Riciardo. He’s now gotta show what he’s got in that STR car. It’s not a bad car (at least compared to HRT) and he really has to step up now.


Williams just turned into a car hire business.


You are exactly right.


I think that Bruno is a good driver given the opportunity. He had a piece of junk – the HRT that Vettel would struggle to get on the back of the grid and half a season with Renault in let’s face it a car that cannot go round slow corners because the stupid front facing exhausts :-). The bad results he had were due to technical issues, penalties that were harsh and bad luck and choices with tyres and strategies his team made. Spa for me said it all. Rain separates the greats from the goods – he produced magic – the boy has talent. Why oh Why do we have to go on Sponsorship? Money is part of the sport – let it go – So what? Hamilton got a race winning car straight away – but because he is British hey let’s pretend he worked his way up the F1 ladder and rave on about him and rip into everyone else

Santino Sirignano

What about Hulkenberg? he is talented yet he was dropped for more cash! who going to say Senna is better than Hulkenberg, dream on!! this is a pay driver deal and a greed for cash, i hope they have another poor season, complete greed should not be rewarded!!


It’s going to be strange sight and as somebody said ‘eerie’ for us veteran F1 fans to see Senna written on the side of a Williams again. I’m sure we’ll get used to it after a few races. Williams has been on a downward spiral since we lost Aryton Senna, maybe this will complete the circle for Williams, giving the team some healing karma, giving them the ability to move forward from those dark days in 1994. So good luck to Bruno & Williams.


I’m not really understanding all the ‘Senna in a Williams’ nostalga. to me it will always be ‘Senna in a McLaren’

Regarding Williams being in a downward spiral since they lost Senna, I think we might need to remind ourselves exactly how many WCC points Senna ever scored for Williams (from memory I think it’s Zero)


Winning 2 titles since then and coming very close against Schumacher isn’t exactly ‘spirling down’. Before 2005, only Mclaren achieved as much as Williams. The real spiral down was really post 2003 for them, whereas Mclaren went up.


As a life long Williams fan I actually think this is quite a good move,these two guys bringing in shed loads of cash give Bruno and all the new technical boys a chance to get in the groove then have a proper stab at it for the 2013 season.

As for rubens I’ve always liked him but where was all his massive development input since he arrived at Williams?for sure we didn’t give him much of a car but it didn’t get much better for all his experience?on top of this he spent the best part of last season moaning about and criticising,I reckon I’d get the boot from my job if I’d done the same.

I would’ve preferred Kimi but in my heart I knew that was to good to be true.

Look forward to reading rubens memoirs and hopefully seeing Williams tearing up the field a la brawn at the 1st test very soon!

Keep the faith brothers


Rubens should have bowed out in front of his home crowd last season, I’m sure it would have been special to wave goodbye at home than Tweeting. On the other hand, I think Bruno will do a better job than Maldonado. In the past seasons he’s been able to jump into a car that was designed for someone else, work with engineers with different car setup mindset than what he would like, but still do a descent job with an inferior car. Hopefully pre-season test will gear him up for a good season.


Your first point is one that many F1 insiders made during the Brazil GP weekend and are making again now


The problem is – when does a sportsman know when the time is right to stop? Many go on to see their status and reputations decline. One of the issues is that are surrounded by people who have vested interests in the sportsman continuing as they all earn money off the back of him. Someone of trust should have had a long hard talk with him and pointed out that if he was content in running round in a mid-field team then it was time to stop. The tail-end and mid-field teams should be packed with up-and-coming chargers looking to make a name for themselves and get a top seat. The top seats should go to the drivers with realistic chances of fighting for race wins and championships. Any other sort of driver is taking up valuable space on a restricted grid.


As a Williams fan, I am actually quite happy that they chose to put Senna in the car. I like Rubens, and he’s obviously more experienced than.. well… everyone! Williams needed to shake things up, put a buzz back in a team that has been lackluster and gradually sliding backwards for several years. And it’s not like Rubens was blowing Madonado away every weekend, like he should have been. Plus Senna is not slow – he obviously knows how to drive, he has impressed a few people around the paddock, and not just in the few races before his contract expires (like a certain A. Sutil). And why should they not benefit from the publicity and the extra sponsorship? Nothing helps move a team back up the grid like a healthy cash injection and a motivated atmosphere. I think that Williams Renault will spring some surprises this year – hopefully good ones! And THEN we can get rid of Maldonado… Go Williams!!


And those who are over-using the term ‘pay driver’ should consider that Rubens was putting up something like $5m to race in 2012, so it wasn’t all about the money…


Unfortunately, despite Williams’ assurances to the contrary, for me this feels too much like a pay driver deal. Bruno has raw speed, as his GP2 title challenge demonstrated, but on objective terms was he a better bet for what will be a development year than Rubens? I’m not convinced. Maybe it’s my scepticism, but the fact that Senna’s sponsor logos are already on the team gear stood out for me. I wish Bruno the best of luck for this season, but for me this decision is in the same ballpark as replacing Damon Hill with Heinz-Harald Frentzen and I feel Rubens has been very hard done by. I’m a Williams fan deep down, but I’m not impressed by this.


It was a pretty weak field the year Senna raced GP2 and he did have the best equipment. Kobayashi seems to be the one that has shown results of the 2008 crew. We will see about Grosjean, but personally I think we saw his stuff the last time; his credtials this time are management and nationality.


I believe Williams made a wrong decision by sending Rubens away.

Bruno came due to sponsors. Not due to his time in simulator. I can’t accept what Williams say here.

Its really sad to hear that Rubens future is in big doubt. He is really a good driver. He has lot of experience more than Bruno. Williams must have given Rubens a chance.



im not particularly sympathetic to Rubens because i think this was always going to happen as Rubens was never going to retire. Every year he wants to be back next year so if he wasnt going to call it quits, the teams was eventually going to. It was inevitable.


True, although I feel quite sad for Rubens his time has eventually “expired”. Thing is, his reaction after the news is still one who desperately wants to make a comeback


I am glad that Bruno got a proper chance to show what he can do – he will be able to prepare for the season and will not have excuses, he must beat Maldonado. He showed great flashes of speed in Renult, Spa and Interlagos qualifying especially but was a bit incosistent during races. Barrichello has had his time and it is time to get a chance for youngsters. Having said this I would love to see more GP2 talents graduate like Bianchi.


While I suspect Williams will be able to milk the Senna name for additional sponsorship; the fact remains that both Senna and Maldonado are entering their late 20’s and secured their drives through large sponsorship packages. Both are at best short-term and neither have much experience developing a car. Williams would have been far better to retain Barrichello, who could have developed the car, and in 2013 a young driver with potential could have been brought in. I fear that Williams are going down the (original) Lotus path.


Maldonado was GP2 champion. Senna has been runner up. Most of the drivers for middle teams last year or in contention for this year did not achieve that. Eg Buemi/ Alg , Kobayashi/Perez, Sutil/Di Resta, Petrov.

Does a GP2 champion not merit a drive in F1? He performed just as well as Hulkenberg did against Barrichello.

Personally I don’t want to see 6 drivers from one country in F1 (Germany). So although I have nothing against Sutil I am happy to see Senna given a proper chance.


I agree, some people focus just on the fact that they are “pay drivers” and ignore everything everything else that they’ve done. That’s why I think we should wait to the end of the season to see who is the best, if one beats the other by a huge margin then it will be clear who didn’t deserve the seat in the first place.


!!!!!!Whats your personal views on the move James Alan, Would also be interesting to hear other drivers and F1 figures past and present’s views on the move too!!!!!!!!


My views are in the follow up piece. He deserves his chance. Hope the car is good


Were talking chalk and cheese comparisons on personalities abilities and profiles there though between the average uncle and reasionably famed motorcylist who to be honest was in a minefield of 99% of any like threatening situation being down to nothing more than driver ability or freak road surface conditions Absolutely no comparison. the circumstances with Ayrton was clearly down to design (one way or another) component failure (most likely in my view) or both


But is it really fitting him being in that seat of all seats taking history into account? I would question his own thoughts on it too would wonder if any seats were available from Caterham or above if he would be there instead. All seems a bit desperate. Would love to get an honest insight to his own and families true thoughts on it all just seems so so wrong wonder what the great man would be thinking! 🙁


Saying that Bruno Senna shouldn’t drive for Williams is like saying that I don’t eat pizza because my uncle was eating it when he choked and died. I am from a bike racing background and have been close to people who have died due to the sport but you wouldn’t decline a Honda contract because a family member was killed racing for Honda (just ask the Dunlop family). It was a different era with different technology and different safety standards. F1 is a hugely cut-throat business where you eat or get eaten. Sentiment? That comes after you get out of the sport.


Very true but nothing tends to or should carry stronger sentimental matters/values than family, remember were talking Bruno going into Williams more so than Williams accepting Bruno this has got to be the biggest sporting taboo ever. Its not even as if he was a distant bloodline so to speak nephew as many uncle/nephew relationships often turn out to be as when you pretty much simply know who each other are and what your family links are/were. Going by the very graphic and clear home video’s from the film they were clearly very very close. Its all very hard to imagine never mind the reality that it has turned into.


F1 is not a sentimental business


Brazil must produce tabloids, you could likley get all the gossipy crap there.


Mamma mia!!!

This news certainly explains a number of things.

1. Why Williams took so long to confirm their second driver seat i.e. They were ashamed of how this news will be interrupted by many and if they could hide the identity of Bruno for the entire season like Top Gear does with The Stig, am sure they would.

2. Why Frank Williams’ partner – Patrick Head has decided to leave the F1 arm of the team i.e. Couldn’t agree more with the way Frank was driving this team of late = Driving it straight into the blasted ground.

Yes, however much spin Williams may want to put on this story, it’s quite obvious to real F1 fans that this is nothing but a marriage of convenience in that Williams gets bags full of money from two pay drivers in return the likes of Bruno & Pastor live out their fantasies.

This is so wrong, this team used to be a power house & it should have done all in its power to secure Kimi or at least Sutil (or kept Hulkenburg) for top drivers would have got them more points which would have earned the team more money which they so badly need, I presume.

Anyway, what we see here is the beginning of the end of Williams F1 team.

Bye-bye Williams!


I’m very glad he got another chance, and not because of his name. He seems like a good lad, with plenty more potential. He impressed in Spa last year, in a similar way to what Schumacher did in 1991.

It is a shame that it seems Rubens’ career in F1 is over. I’m sure he can still get third driver/test role anywhere he wants, and one of the new (rubbish) teams would have him. But please Rubinho, give it a rest already.


I think it’s great news for him and F1.!

After testing for Honda in 2008 he was within a whisker of getting a drive for the then to become Brawn GP Team (and who know’s how far he’d have pushed Jenson that year..?).

Good luck Bruno!


Given how hard he pushed Karun Chandhok, Christian Klien and Vitaly Petrov, I have an image of the Alonso-Massa relationship in my “what if” version of 2009.

Hopefully he can push Maldonado harder.


That is great news. Like someone else said it will be good for him to get a decent pre-season testing in and unlike HRT get a full seasons racing.

I really hope there is an improvement at Williams this year so he can show his full potential.

A little sad for Rubens but it is time to hang up his helmet and make way for a young talent.


Just find it so hard to believe that he is joining the team that in many peoples eyes whether it be design ie the floor scraping the ground whilst tyres cold or the steering columb suspected failure that he would join williams of all teams out of respect for Ayrton its a move thats certainly going to raise a lot of eye brows and going to split the family on opinion for sure, tense times in the senna clan!


Is it just me that sees the irony of a Senna coming to Williams,at this particular time when active suspension has wrangled it’s way past the FIA in slightly different guise?

The year that Ayrton joined was just as active suspension was banned making his Williams not what he had signed on for and a “bucket of poo” to drive, this was in tremendous contrast to the previous year’s active car, which was a dream on wheels. Remember also that Prost left because his “No Senna” clause was broken by Frank employing Ayrton.

Good luck to Bruno, he may be one of the last ever Williams drivers.

At the same time one feels a little sad that Rubino did not retire gracefully, but is left unemployed.


I remember how wonderful it was to see the pictures of Ayrton Senna driving the Williams Renault FW15D at Estoril in January 1994. We know what happened over the next few months and as a young teenager at the time Ayrton Senna’s death on live TV is seared into my memory.

I have not been overly happy with the thought of Bruno driving for Williams on many levels. But I think when I see pictures of Bruno Senna driving the Williams Renault FW34 at Jerez in February it will be difficult.

As a long time Williams supporter I am disappointed with how Rubens Barrichello has been treated. I am concerned that the team has a combined tally of three points in the combined less than 50 race career of its drivers. Do the drivers have the technical skills to deal with the engine change? What is the point of dealings with Qatar if it never results in commercial support? Lastly has sponsorship dollar become more important than results? Are Senna and Maldonado really the best available drivers. Let’s hope Coughlan and Gillan can produce a rocket.

And then there’s Senna driving a Williams Renault.

Good luck to the team and drivers; thanks and farewell to Rubens: I’m not exactly optimistic for 2012 or beyond for this great F1 institution.

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