Bruno Senna was born in October 1983, in São Paulo, Brazil. His mother was Viviane Senna da Silva, sister of a rising racing star called Ayrton Senna da Silva. His father was Flavio Lalli. When he was six he was introduced to karts by his grandfather Milton da Silva, Ayrton’s father.
It was natural given that in that era the elder Senna had become the top racing driver in the world. When Ayrton was killed in May 1994, Bruno’s racing career stopped. He was 10 years old, but the family did not want another racer. There was further tragedy for the family in March 1996 when Flavio Lalli was killed in a motorcycling accident in Sao Paulo. Bruno stayed away from racing until he was 20 when he told his mother that he wanted to go racing again. He had missed out on the important years in his teens and so needed to move fast.
At the end of 2004 he went to Britain and did six Formula BMW races, driving for Carlin Motorsport. Having been quick, but a little wild, he joined Räikkönen Robertson Racing for the 2005 season. It was a competitive field including eventual champion Álvaro Parente, and future IndyCar drivers Mike Conway and Charlie Kimball. Senna finished 10th and stayed with the team for 2006, winning five races and finishing third in the championship behind Mike Conway and Oliver Jarvis.
He then signed to drive for Arden International in GP2 for 2007 and did well, finishing eighth in the championship after winning one victory and scoring two other podiums. He then moved to iSport for 2008 and won twice and scored four podiums to finish second in the GP2 title to Giorgio Pantano, but ahead of Lucas di Grassi, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov and other men who would go on to break into F1, including Jerome d’Ambrosio and Kamui Kobayashi. For a man in only his fourth full season of car racing it was impressive, although it had to be said that Bruno had always had the best equipment available to him, which obviously helped.
He had his first F1 test at the end of 2008 when Honda gave him a run. He hoped to be named the second driver at Brawn GP that winter and turned down the offer of a Mercedes drive in DTM. As a result he spent 2009 competing in the Le Mans Series with ORECA. By the end of the year, however, he had negotiated himself a drive with the new Campos F1 team. This was a complete disaster but the team was dragged into reality by Colin Kolles, under the HRT banner in 2010. He made his F1 debut in Bahrain but the cars were way off the pace and the best result possible was 14th in the Korean GP.
Not wanting to stay with the team, Senna was able to negotiate a test and reserve driver role with Lotus Renault GP for 2011, supporting Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov. A few days later Kubica was seriously injured in a rallying accident and fellow test driver Nick Heidfeld was promoted into the race drive, but the German proved to be a disappointment for the team and in July the decision was made to try Senna. He qualified seventh for his first race with the team in Belgium, but had a collision at the first corner. He finished ninth in Italy, to score his first World Championship points but after that the team struggled to be competitive and he finished 15th, 16th, 13th, 12th, 16th and 17th in the final races of the year.
The team decided that it wanted to hired Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for 2012 and so Senna was on the market again and has now managed to secure himself a drive at Williams. There is no doubt that the decision has been swayed by sponsors that are supporting Williams, but Senna knows that this is his big opportunity to show that he has what it takes to be competitive at the top level of F1.
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