The Senna family is fully supportive of the famous name’s return to Williams.
18 years ago, Brazil was in mourning over the death at the wheel of a Williams of the great Ayrton Senna. The tragedy also halted for many years the young Bruno Senna’s formative karting career, as the sporting world’s attention moved to Italian courtrooms, where Williams bosses were accused of manslaughter.
So almost two decades on, how did the Senna family – including Ayrton’s once grief-stricken and angry parents and sister – react to Tuesday’s news that their grandson and son had inked a deal to drive for Williams in 2012?
“Everybody is ecstatic,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “I spoke to my grandparents before even I spoke to my mother (Viviane) yesterday when I got the news and my grandmother was so happy, my grandfather had a great laugh.
“In the family everybody is smiling, everybody has worked very hard for it. It’s very much a family business in our case and we have a great unity and everyone is super-happy about it.”
His next responsibility is to safeguard the reputation of the family’s name, after his first two seasons with HRT and Renault did not set the F1 world alight.
And Bruno also faces the task of shaking off “the stigma” of being arguably a pay-driver, Ayrton Senna’s 1994 teammate Damon Hill said on Tuesday. But Senna insists he is not a pay-driver.
“Initially they (Williams) wouldn’t even talk about any type of sponsorship. They just wanted to assess me before anything else,” he said. “The only way they would ever give me this chance was if they were comfortable with my performance.”
According to former F1 driver Luciano Burti, however – now a pundit for Brazil’s TV Globo – the situation is “not ideal” for Williams.
“For Bruno it’s very good for him to be able to continue his career. As for Williams, at least theoretically the situation is not ideal.
“The team now has two inexperienced drivers, although in practice Maldonado has shown some speed and Bruno has also shown that he can do a good job,” he said.