Honda website
Honda website

MAY 12, 2006

Too much too soon?

It appears that moves are afoot to push Bruno Senna, the 22-year-old nephew of the late Ayrton, into Formula 1 for 2007.

After just five races in British Formula BMW and Formula Renault he moved in to British F3 series in 2005 and has started winning races this year with Raikkonen Robertson Racing. What is interesting is that Senna has also driven cars on a number of F1 tracks on which it is not possible to test: in Bahrain he drove in the Chevrolet Lumina, in Melbourne he turned up in Australian Formula 3 and won against meagre opposition in the BMW Track Attack. In Monaco he is tipped to drive a Porsche celebrity car. It is not difficult to see a pattern in all this, nor to suggest that Gerhard Berger, Ayrton Senna's great friend and team-mate, is the man facilitating this programme. Berger denies that he is managing Senna, but he appears to have a strong mentoring role.

There have even been suggestions that, with help from Berger, Senna might become part of Red Bull's burgeoning junior driver development programme. Since this has already developed four highly promising drivers: Tonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed, Neel Jani and Michael Ammermuller, however, and there are another 14 youngesters on the payroll further down the racing ladder, it is difficult to see how Senna would be slotted in.

There is also the risk that too much too soon might ultimately prove harmful to the Brazilian's career. People in F1 have short memories, but back in the 1980s RJ Reynolds, via its Camel brand, dallied with little success with a racing programme centred on sons and siblings of famous drivers. Senna has proved himself to be a quick and personable young man, but has little experience in cars and he has yet to truly prove that he has what it takes. The risk of pushing him too soon is not just that it could hurt his career, but that it might also damage the Senna brand itself. Wiser counsel might be for him to undertake a season of GP2 in 2007, with a view to graduating to F1 in 2008 if it transpires that he genuinely has what it takes.