By Alan Baldwin ©
MONZA, Italy (Reuters) – Brazilian Bruno Senna joined his late uncle Ayrton as a Formula One points scorer after finishing ninth in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The last time the Senna name appeared with points against it was at the 1993 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide won by the great triple world champion, his 41st and last victory before his death at Imola on May 1, 1994.
Bruno, in his second race for Renault after failing to score a point in his debut season with strugglers HRT, savoured the moment.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said of his afternoon in the Monza sunshine lapping in the black and gold Lotus-backed car that itself harked back to the cars driven by Ayrton in the 1980s.
“I had a really good, fun race. It was very eventful again, so no straightforward races for me.”
Senna had dropped back to 18th after qualifying 10th, with his Russian team mate Vitaly Petrov taken out in a first corner tangle by the sliding HRT of Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi.
In Belgium two weeks earlier, it had been Senna who caused the first lap mayhem and he started far more cautiously this time, losing places.
“There was plenty of action during the race, overtaking and having to push very hard. There was not a single lap in the race where I was not trying everything I could,” he said.
The Brazilian, a Renault reserve, was drafted in at Spa last month after the team lost faith in Germany’s Nick Heidfeld, himself a stand-in for injured Polish driver Robert Kubica.
Until then it had looked like his Formula One career was destined to end with his name among the many drivers to have raced without scoring a point.
“It was getting close to that last year but hopefully we will score a few more points. I think the car has great potential and we can go forward from here,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough in the Asian part of the series again, I don’t know the tracks as well as the European circuits, but I am looking forward to it. This race gave me a nice confidence boost.”
Senna’s contract expires at the end of the season, with Kubica doing everything he can to get back behind the wheel and show Renault that he still has what it takes. What happens to the Brazilian remains up in the air.
“The best way to do it is with the results on the track,” said Senna.
“Now the objective is to keep having strong results and fix my place in Formula One.”
Renault team boss Eric Boullier was pleased for him but said he wanted more.
“Frankly, he’s doing well and is steadily progressing in the best way I would have dreamed,” said the Frenchman. “He didn’t race since last year and doesn’t have a great experience.
“His consistency was not perfect but good enough and clearly he pushed at the right time…it’s good for him, the team and his confidence. I am happy with his progress.”