Bruno Senna’s performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix shows the Brazilian is beginning to finally come of age in F1, reckons his team boss Frank Williams.
While the wildly contrasting fortunes of Pastor Maldonado have dominated Williams’ season, Senna’s quiet efficiency in delivering a steady stream of the minor points finishes has ensured the Grove team remain ahead of Force India in the constructors’ table. Senna’s main weakness up until the Hungaroring had been matching Maldonado’s qualifying performances but in Budapest the former HRT and Renault driver finally hauled his FW34 into Q3 for the first time and then raced strongly to finish seventh ahead of Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.
The Grove team has remained supportive of Senna since the start of the season despite some low-key weekends and, speaking in an interview for the August edition of the JA on F1 podcast, Frank Williams has expressed his admiration for the Brazilian’s performance in Hungary.
Asked if he thought the result would act as a turning point for the 28-year-old, Sir Frank replied: “Yes I think you’re right, it probably was a bit of a coming of age in F1. It was a strong drive, I would say pretty much without mistake at all.
“I was very encouraged, I really was. It sounds condescending but we all sit in the pits and watch these races and we’re almost emotionally with the drivers, urging them on as they’re striving away. You still get that feeling from within and I just felt from Bruno he was really getting on with the job and needed little mental urging from the pits accordingly. He’s very intelligent and I think he’ll work it out for himself quite well.”
Senna’s failure to match Maldonado’s outright pace had prompted suggestions that he could find himself coming under longer-term pressure for his drive from Valtteri Bottas, who regularly takes over the Brazilian’s car in Friday morning practice. Williams admits the 22-year-old Finn has made a sizeable impression at Grove, but isn’t putting a timeframe on any promotion.
“I can’t make any prediction as and when he will get into one of our two cars – three into two don’t go,” he admitted. “But he is very highly regarded within the team. He seems to be a naturally gifted driver who doesn’t have too much to say for himself – so he’s in with a very good chance!
Despite the inconsistencies displayed by both race drivers, Williams nonetheless go into the closing months of the season in a far healthier position than last year – when the once all-conquering outfit claimed just five points all season. The team founder reamins as ambitious as ever, however, and wants far more than seventh place in the standings – something he believes the team are capable of achieving.
“For some teams very well but for us not particularly well at all,” he said when asked how he would assess 2012 to date. “The famous headmaster’s expression ‘must do better next time’ very much applies in this institution.
“They’re a very good bunch of people downstairs [in the factory] and those around them and if we’re struggling today we’ll certainly emerge we believe, if not this season next season. We have a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, very good equipment, wind tunnels etcetera. No excuses.”
You can listen to the whole fascinating interview with Frank Williams, along with exclusive chats with Monisha Kaltenborn, Nicholas Tombazis and a special feature with Felipe Massa, in the latest JA on F1 podcast here or via iTunes.