Senna under pressure to perform in Formula One

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The Independent Online

In possessing one of the most revered surnames in motor sport, Bruno Senna faces an uphill battle even before he has turned a wheel in anger on his Formula One debut next season.

It is a fight Senna has faced before on his rise to the top, but in the goldfish bowl environment of F1, he is acutely aware the myriad of eyes trained upon him will number far more than he has previously encountered.

It will be unfair on Senna, but unsurprising too as he is nephew of legendary three-time world champion Ayrton, arguably the greatest driver of his generation and one of the greatest of all time.

It was the death of his uncle at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix that put the young Senna's career on hold when he was an aspiring, promising karter.

Indeed, when leaving McLaren at the end of 1993, Ayrton is reported to have commented: "If you think I'm fast, wait until you see my nephew."

Bruno, though, waited 10 years before deciding the time was right to resume his career, missing out on a considerable period of development when skills and ability are honed.

But once his mind was made up, even if his decision did upset certain members of his family, Senna quickly set about trying to realise his dream.

After competing in Formula BMW UK, the British Formula Three championship and Formula Three, Senna moved up to GP2 in 2007, finishing as runner-up in 2008.

But for the demise of Honda a year ago, there is every chance Senna would have been in F1 last season after impressing in a test for the Japanese manufacturing giant.

Instead, Senna was forced to bide his time for another year as Ross Brawn, who formed Brawn GP from Honda's ashes, opted for continuity and experience by retaining Rubens Barrichello's services.

At that time, with F1 staring into a financial abyss, Senna's hopes of following in the footsteps of his uncle appeared remote, even more so when civil war erupted between the governing body, the FIA and the teams.

But with peace came an expansion of the grid for next season that played into Senna's hands.

At 26, Senna enters F1 relatively late, and in signing for one of the four new marques in Campos Meta, he concedes he has taken "a calculated risk."

In many respects, it will ease some of the pressure on his already burdened shoulders because no-one will expect too much from a new team attempting to rub shoulders with Ferrari and McLaren.

But on the other hand, Bruno carries the Senna name, which will see his every move on track and his every word off it being meticulously scrutinised.

"Since the beginning there has been a lot of pressure, expectation and demands. It has been a constant in my life," he said.

"I've always attracted more attention than anyone else on my level, and I know in Formula One the proportion is going to be much, much higher.

"I'm aware of that, so the best way of creating my own identity and success is to get results, and Formula One is the biggest showcase for that.

"People think of Ayrton when they hear the Senna name. Some people doubt I can do something, or that I am here on my own merits, but this is not my concern.

"The important thing is people support me because they know what I can do, and I have great belief in my own ability."

Senna concedes to being as competitive as his late uncle when it comes to racing, although feels he is more measured away from the circuit.

At this stage it is too early to say whether another Senna dynasty is in the offing, but at least for however long, the name is back in F1 where it belongs.