• 5 minutes with ... Bruno Senna

'At first it felt like I wasn't doing my job properly'

Adam Hay-Nicholls June 22, 2010
Bruno Senna has had a tough start to his F1 career © Sutton Images
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It was always going to take you a few races to get comfortable. Do you now feel you're now getting on top of the car?
I'm comfortable, and more confident and consistent. But I'm not still at the level I want to be. I think it's all about getting the tyres on the limit, and that's a knife's edge. This car slides a lot and it's very difficult to find that limit. I believe I'm around 75 to 80% on the tyres, so there's a lot of performance to come just by finding that window. This will come with more mileage and experience. But in any case it's coming together, I'm getting my laps hooked up together and the lap times are very consistent. But I know I can do better. I still look forward to getting in the car every time, to go out and find that little edge, and nail some good laps.

How rapidly is the car improving? Is it behind your expectations for this stage of the season?
It's hard to judge. We started the season in a huge rush and we knew it would be quite hard to develop and play catch up. As a driver you always want new bits on the car every two hours, but we're not in that position. We are now doing some safety program development and there's some wind tunnel time coming as well. We have some good things coming up, but we basically have the same car that we started with in Bahrain. Small things have been improved - the springs, the dampers - but there have been no major redesign. That will happen soon, hopefully.

Isn't it a bit hairy driving a car that is significantly slower than the other cars on the track, and being lapped four times in a race?
It's not comfortable. At the first few races it felt like I wasn't doing my job properly, I was just thinking too much about letting people past and losing loads of time. Whereas the focus isn't that, the focus is to push as hard as you can. I'm now much better than this. I'm competitive - I really want to be fighting for position, not just looking in my mirrors.

Bruno Senna on track at Monaco © Sutton Images
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Because expectations for the team are low, has that helped in some ways take the pressure off you?
Not really because in the end if you have a competitive car and a good reference from either your team-mate or the engineers, you can improve very quickly. However, when you're learning everything with the team, it's harder to be sure if it's you or the car. It's harder to have confidence in each other when you don't have the experience. Karun and I hadn't worked with these engineers before. But now we have really good confidence in each other, and everyone respects each other. There is pressure to perform.

How concerned were you at the start of the year that this could be another season sat on the sidelines?
There were a few hairy moments there. At times I thought maybe that's it, it's over, it's time to go home and sell coconuts on the beach. That would be nice, have an easy life with no pressure! I'm joking, it's very hard to say what I would have done. My aim has always been Formula One, and to be competitive here. I think I can still make a long career here, but I still need to improve for people to take me seriously.

How competitive is it between you and Karun? Because you're good mates…
It's very competitive when we're on the track, off track we collaborate a lot. We try to give each other as much information as possible. Honestly, if we don't everything takes much, much longer. It's good to be friends with your team-mate. We've been in situations this year where we've been side-by-side, and we give each other room.

Do you guys share hire cars?
Yeah quite a lot. We drove together from Barcelona to Monaco actually and I worked out how to make Karun shut up. All you have to do is go fast in the wet. When a car is aquaplaning he's very quiet.

Is F1 harder than you thought it was going to be?
Oh yes. F1 is really difficult. It's extremely competitive. But it's a friendly environment too.

How many times per weekend do you get asked about Ayrton?
Every 30 seconds on average! 90% of the interviews I do, I get asked about Ayrton. I'm used to it. I think in a couple of years that will wear off. As much as I've answered the same questions over and over again a million times since I started racing, there are always different people reading the articles.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Adam Hay-Nicholls is editor of GP Week and Formula One correspondent for Metro UK and Metro International Adam Hay-Nicholls joined the F1 circus in 2005 as a founder and senior writer of The Red Bulletin - an irreverent and innovative magazine that was printed at the race track four times every grand prix weekend, and which achieved cult status. In 2010 he became editor of GP Week and is also Formula One correspondent for Metro UK and Metro International - the world's largest circulation newspaper