Bruno Senna, Eric Boullier, Valencia, 2011

Senna first in line for race seat at Renault

2011 F1 season

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Bruno Senna, Eric Boullier, Valencia, 2011
Bruno Senna, Eric Boullier, Valencia, 2011

Renault team principal Eric Boullier says Bruno Senna will be the first driver the team call in if either of their regular drivers are unable to race.

Speaking at the launch of the Renault R31 in Valencia Boullier said:

I will get the one who is ready and obviously Bruno is the most ready driver.

Romain [Grosjean] is here as well but that is more a strategy to put back a French driver [in F1]. In France there is a concern now, they understood finally, no more Grand Prix, no whatever, and it’s part of the plan.
Eric Boullier

Senna and Grosjean are the team’s third drivers, and the team also have Jan Charouz, Ho-Pin Tung and Fairuz Fauzy (announced earlier this month) as reserve drivers.

Senna said:

It?s a really exciting opportunity from both Group Lotus and Lotus Renault GP.

To be able to develop my Formula One career within a World Championship winning organisation and to do so in conjunction with some hugely interesting work for such an iconic sports car company as Lotus is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Bruno Senna

Senna talked exclusively to F1 Fanatic at the Renault launch – check back later for the interview.

2011 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Senna first in line for race seat at Renault”

  1. Brilliant! I really think Bruno is a lot better than he appeared last year! This is great news!


    Keith, the guy on far right IS Ho-Pin Tung, obviously present at the launch.

    1. I believe – I may be wrong – but that is actually Fairuz Fauzy – who has betrayed last years Lotus ;)

        1. My apologies! In my defence, they are quite similar!

          1. For the benefits of those who have not been to SE Asia: SE Asian natives (e.g. Malays like Fauzy) are brown-skinned, Chinese like Tung are not :)

    2. jup lol I saw him too.

    3. I said that too on the launch article.

    4. Look at the video from the launch, 18:56, he’s even interviewed. NOT Fauzy.

    5. Sorry – got the caption wrong. Have changed the article, thanks for pointing that out.

      1. Glad to help :)

    6. I noticed one thing. All the other drivers have their names on the racing overalls but Ho-Pin does not? What does that mean I wonder? That he just forgetful and didn’t bring his own suit with name on it or ?

      1. I noticed it too. Looking at this image it also seems his suit is different, without that strap on part where the names are, and maybe his name would have required sticking rather than sewing and maybe that’s why?

        1. If you look at this one though: you can see that Kubica and Petrov both have a belt like Ho-Pin Tung on their suits, with the flag off to the left, and no velcro flap, while Grosjean, Senna, and Charouz all have a velcro flap, with the flag sewn on there. The velcro flap ones look better.

  3. Excellent news! Bruno really deserves a shot at a real drive in F1, which he totally did not had in HRT.

    Also, the Senna-Lotus-JPS publicity combo is an opportunity just too good to pass…

    1. Also, the Senna-Lotus-JPS publicity combo is an opportunity just too good to pass…

      Maybe I’m a cynic, but the first thought that crossed my mind was that that’s the only reason he’s there. “Look, it’s a Senna in a Black and Gold Lotus.”

      1. I had the exact same thought, and I am a fan of Bruno.

  4. I think it’s pretty degrading and crude of Boullier to outright say that the only reason Roman Grosjean is at Renault is because of his nationality. Okay, it may be the reason, but you don’t say that in public. It implicitly says he’s not there because of talent, which I imagine to be a major put down for a driver. Now I’ve never been a fan of Grosjean, but that’s pretty harsh.

    1. Depends how you interpret it, you could look at it being that he’s France’s best chance of a driver getting back into F1… If so, god help them!

      1. Maybe it could even mean: look Senna is here because he has some money, and we want his name, so Grosjean has to be a bit patient for the moment, but his time will come.

    2. agreed – great way to motivate your reserve driver! Luckily they have a few other guys to fill in for him ;)

    3. And I think it might not even be true. Probably more to do with his tyre development driving for Pirelli.

    4. Also Bouiller said Senna was more ready, which is true, he’s just come off of 18 races of modern F1, compared to Grosjean’s lesser tally from 18 months ago.

      Mind you, don’t be too surprised to see a Senna-Grosjean partnership in 2012. I think that would be quite cool, actually.

      1. To be honest, the 2009 Renault is probably more representative of modern F1 than last year’s HRT ;D

  5. Its good to put a bit of pressure on Petrov I guess. I reckon Senna may race this year, even if a one off in Brazil

    1. I suspect he will have a run out or two as well!

    2. Yeah, you never know when Petrov one of the regular drivers, gets – say – foodpoisoning

      1. They saw something in the HRT driver management style you think?

        I think I might a fairly good chance for a seat at Renault this year.

    3. I reckon Senna may race this year, even if a one off in Brazil

      I think the FIA might have something to say about that. I seriously doubt teams would be allowed to give drivers a one-off race for marketing purposes.

      1. As Colin Kolles proved last year, a team can run whoever they want whenever they want, switching drivers as often as they like, up to 4 drivers total. I believe 4 is the limit though according to the regulations.

      2. It’s no different to talk of Loeb getting a one-off Toro Rosso drive a couple of years ago, or Chandhok’s various non-existent deals with clauses allowing him to drive in India…

  6. Nor Senna and Petrov will score a podium in that ugly car!

  7. Renault in “being slightly over-prepared for reserve driver needs” shocker.

    First of all, the idea you can have two third drivers is excellent (clue is in the name, surely)!

    With all these third and reserve drivers Renault are only short of 4 for a football team :-D

    Hopefully they’ll all get to drive in Friday practice (joke…)!

    1. They’ll be short of fridays to get them all into the car, unless they bring a 2 seater to FP2 at each race. :-0

      1. Don’t renault also have a three seater? Yes, they do, see this article from Keith:

        And I guess the “first to replace a driver” means Senna can do the steering, with the other two as passengers.

    2. If a team has two number 1 drivers, like Ferrari officially have, and two third drivers, does it need any second drivers?

      1. ‘For sure’ you know the answer (unofficially of course).

    3. Ferrari have 3 reserve drivers: Bianchi, Fisichella and Gené. None of them ever drives for development, not even at the tests. Fisichella only did 2 straight line tests. I wonder what is the use of all those drivers?

  8. C’mon guys…leave some young drivers for the other teams… :-D

    1. A bit like Real Madrid buying drivers and put them on their bench, just so other teams cannot field them.

      Only Renault did not buy the big name stars and went budget buys instead.

      1. Well, Ferrari did that with Raikonnen last year, only the let him have some action in a different league :)

      2. A bit like Real Madrid buying drivers and put them on their bench, just so other teams cannot field them.

        Why would Real Madrid buy drivers?

  9. this reminds me of a team last year called umm err.. hrt they had about 50 other drivers to!

  10. The irony is, there is an ING banner at the top of this page on my browser!!

  11. This move with Senna is genius one to attract attention of crowds and, of course, sponsors.
    Will see if it works though, becasue Lotus name saga can ruin that sweet masterplan.

  12. I see Senna replacing Petrov sometime during the season

    1. Then you don’t understand how running an F1 team costs pocket money as far as the Russian elite are concerned, or the long-term benefits.

  13. Two excellent quotes today that made me smile.

    Kubica when asked how about his lotus he said they are a sponsor aren’t they. Brilliant robert!

    And senna stating he was really happy to get the opportunity. And that he had been trying to get into a ‘serious’ f1 programme for 2 years. Take that me kolles ;-)

    I have rated senna and last year proved nothing. You don’t become a bad driver by driving a poor, non developed car. I think he will get a race seat when Robert leaves at the end of tge year.

    1. Kubica when asked how about his lotus he said they are a sponsor aren’t they. Brilliant robert!

      Nice. At least someone isn’t confused about what team this is.

      1. Here’s the actual quote:

        “Well, they’re a sponsor, a partner.
        I could say that it was my dream to drive for Total.
        If Lotus owned the team then it would be a bit different.”

  14. I’d like to see Bruno run some practise sessions and get a real feel for him in a (i’m assuming) decent car.

  15. I don’t understand why is the team which isn’t financially strong is feeding 5 test drivers? Senna is good for the job too is Grosjean, then why three others?

    1. Because Fauzy comes with Group Lotus money, so *not* having him would likely cost the team.

      He’s obviously not there to drive, look at the times he produce when at Lotus Racing last year!

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