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Bruno Senna on his Formula One test debut 18 Nov 2008

Bruno Senna (BRA) prepares to test for Honda Racing. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 17 November 2008. Bruno Senna (BRA) tests for Honda Racing. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 17 November 2008. Bruno Senna (BRA) tests for Honda Racing. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 17 November 2008. Lucas Di Grassi (BRA) tests for Honda Racing with Bruno Senna (BRA) tests for Honda Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 18 November 2008

Bruno Senna made his Formula One debut on Monday afternoon at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, testing for Honda. Although Senna covered just 39 laps, as he familiarised himself with the Japanese team’s car, he will be back in action for a full day on Wednesday. Here Senna reflects on his first taste of Formula One power and discusses the hype surrounding his future…

Q: Bruno, did your debut meet your expectations?
Bruno Senna:
Yes, it was great fun. I was really enjoying myself. It was such a different experience from everything I have done before. It was quite a special opportunity that Honda gave me. The car is such a big step up from GP2, as it has much better gear shift, a much better engine and much better aerodynamics - everything is a step up. It is very hard to explain why it takes a while for you as a driver to adapt to the car. The fact is that what you expect from the car is so very different. So I can say that it was a very good first try, because I didn’t have much pressure to perform. The team just asked me to get involved with the car and build a connection with the team. That is what I did. I felt very comfortable, although the seat didn’t fit perfectly. It is a big chance and towards the end of the session I felt much more comfortable. It was very, very special!

Q: Did you run a special programme?
BS:
It was all about getting involved with the car. There are so many switches and in the beginning it was quite a task to work them, and then get accustomed to all the procedures that Formula One has. I found that surprisingly easy. Somehow you get in the car and almost at first glance know where all the buttons are and know what to do with them. I was working on the downforce level and balance. And of course I had to find out how the slick tyres work.

Q: How much of the car was set up for 2009?
BS:
It didn’t have the wings or the chassis of the ’09 car but we were trying to simulate the downforce levels and the balance, in order to get some numbers for the new developments and then correlate them with the numbers from the wind tunnel.

Q: You started slowly, but at the end of the session you made quite a big step forward with your lap times…
BS:
Yes, that’s true. Towards the end, I was feeling much more comfortable. Before that I had badly worn front tyres, so I was really struggling to find the right grip and balance. But with the last set I could actually work the tyres properly, as they were in a decent condition when I started with them. And then I was able to push harder and harder every lap and find the time. Eventually I made some mistakes because I was trying to find the limit - but I think, as it was the first time I was driving the car, it was pretty decent.

Q: Was it physically demanding?
BS:
It was pretty easy. I think the downforce level we were running made the car not so much of a step up in terms of its top speed to the GP2 car. But of course as the car develops, it will be much harder, so training will be more important.

Q: On Wednesday, you will have the chance to do a full day. Are you ready for that?
BS:
Doing a full day will again be very special. I will try new tyres - and I assume that this again will be a different experience.

Q: Are you satisfied with the lap times that you did?
BS:
Yes, I was, because you cannot expect a driver, who is completely new to a Formula One car, to deliver a magical lap time. That first taste has shown what I need and now we can work on that, so that I will have the opportunity on Wednesday to push a bit harder, and to find the limits.

Q: How did it feel when you left the garage for the first time?
BS:
It’s been two months since I drove a single-seater or any race car. So the first time out was a bit overwhelming with all these functions and all the power. I didn’t know what grip level to expect. I tried to take all that on board as quickly as I could.

Q: How does it feel to follow your uncle, Ayrton, into Formula One racing?
BS:
It is very special for me. It is my first test so there is still a long way to go. But if I could be successful in Formula One it would be very special for me.

Q: Any fears of being compared?
BS:
No. Because this in my own career. I am doing my own job. Nobody expects me to be Ayrton - I am Bruno. That’s how I see it.