In 1993, F1 star Ayrton Senna was quoted as saying, “If you think I’m good, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno.” Ayrton Senna’s death in 1994 put an end to Bruno’s racing career, and the young Brazilian wouldn’t get behind the wheel of a race car in competition again until 2004. He raced two seasons in Formula Three (2005 and 2006) and two seasons in GP2 (2007 and 2008), interspersed with drives in the LeMans Series and the Porsche Supercup Series. In 2010, Senna finally made the big time, landing a ride with the newly formed Hispania Racing F1 team. Nothing else seemed to go right for Senna, who competed in 18 races last year without earning a single driver’s championship point. His best finish was 14th in Korea, but 9 DNF finishes spoke more about the team’s limitations than Senna’s driving ability. Even Senna’s teammate, Karun Chandhok, managed to finish no higher than 14th in any given race.
For 2011, it was clear that Hispania Racing was looking for a funded driver to buy their way onto the team. Senna couldn’t raise sufficient sponsorship funding, so he’s been kicked to the curb in favor of Narain Karthikeyan. The Indian driver has previous experience in F1, both as a driver with Jordan and as a test driver with Williams; more importantly, he brings significant funding with him, courtesy of Tata Motors. It’s not enough to help perpetually under-funded Hispania Racing, who will undoubtedly repeat their role as rolling chicanes in the 2011 F1 season.
As for Bruno Senna, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to find a replacement ride in F1 for the 2011 season. Force India still hasn’t finalized their drivers for 2011, but it looks like Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta are the likely candidates, which leaves Senna without an opportunity in F1. Here’s hoping he lands a more competitive ride in a different series, because I’d hate to see someone with his last name selling insurance.