F1 hopeful and nephew of an F1 legend, Bruno Senna was at Thorpe Park for our Need For Speed Grand Final. We caught up with him to talk F1, Jenson Button and his thoughts on the new Need For Speed...
So, Bruno. You're the nephew of Ayrton Senna...
Yeah, I'm his nephew from his sister's side.
Did you feel like you were growing up in his shadow?
Not really. I mean, when I started racing I was always the nephew of Ayrton. As soon as I got success of my own I got recognised for my achievements and this only gets better and better, so it just depends how much I can achieve.
Did it not create more pressure having the name?
It did! It did in the beginning. I could feel more pressure in the beginning when I hadn't proven myself to the world, and to myself to be honest, but now I'm more confident and I know what I'm capable of so the pressure is not a big deal because I can cope with it. It's been a good learning school for formula one, that's for certain.
What was your route to becoming a potential F1 star?
In terms of racing I did three races in Formula BMW in 2004. 05 and 06 British Formula 3; 07 and 08, GP2. And that's pretty much my path to Formula 1. I got a really close shot to Formula 1 last year, almost got a Braun seat this season which would be a pretty good deal but didn't quite manage that, and this year I'm trying again.
You're here at Thorpe Park for our Need For Speed SHIFT finals. They just announced your arrival on the stage as a uture F1 Champion- is that feasible?
That's the intention. My intention was never just to go in Formula 1 and drive, it's to win and be successful; so the concept of success for me is to be champion at least once.
Did you have a track that you grew up on?
The circuit that I used to drive when I drove Go-Karts was on my family-s farm; a track that Ayrton drew. It was more of a clean track like Silverstone, and these are the tracks where I excel. The learning curve there was quite interesting.
The whole Braun and Jenson Button thing - what's happened there? He started out so well; do you think he'll be champ?
I think Jenson will be champion. He's got a big pressure from Rubens [Barrichello] but it is going to be quite tough towards the end of the year. I think Jenson has just enough advantage now that he can administrate it and hopefully we'll see if he can keep it together. In the beginning of the year they had such a big advantage, he also was driving quite well. Pressure is something people take in different ways and sometimes he's just been a bit too careful not to have a big loss and has lost a lot of points because of that.
What's your take on the whole controversy surrounding the technology of the Braun cars?
That's Formula 1! It's how it goes; sport is always like this. There's always people happy and not so happy with what's going on. If you pay more attention to it it's always happened in one place or another.
Obviously mentioned Need For Speed earlier - are you a big gamer yourself?
I am, I've been playing race sim games since I was 10 years-old and always loved it. I think the first one was Stunts, on DOS; you used to make your own tracks with loops. That was the beginning for me.
Ever play Micro Machines?
Naaah I didn't play that one - I like the games where you're inside the car.
Ever go for a more light-hearted game or is it always more realistic?
I love the realism. I played R-Factor, when the GP4 game was released I was playing it a lot, and I've been driving some of the Formula 1 team's simulators, which is quite interesting - pretty close to reality I tell you.
What do you think of SHIFT?
I love it! It's a great game - it's quite interesting to get the hang of the controls. I think with the steering wheel it should be quite realistic, the cars seem to be pretty good. And the most impressive thing for me with the game is the circuit models. Brands Hatch is really really good, you can really feel the gradient of the track, you can go up and down, and you only realise how bad it is when you go there live, but on SHIFT they've done a pretty good job.
How does it compare to being behind the wheel in real life?
You're lacking the G-Force and all the adrenaline of knowing that if you make a mistake like you do in the game, you're in big trouble.
I suppose for the guys competing in there, that's the nearest they'll feel to that kind of pressure...
Well the winner's in there's got a Nissan 350z, he can take his car to Brands Hatch and have a go - hopefully he'll be a bit more careful than he was being on his winning lap!
Do you think he'd get anywhere near your times on the track in real life compared to your time on the track in Need For Speed?
I think he'd struggle to keep up - it's probably not a fair question though that one! [laughs]
Haha, probably not. So what are your other fave games?
Need For Speed is one of them now, I've only played it a little bit...
Do you play any games that aren't racers?
The thing is, every game I get, I finish. I played Prototype and I really love it, but I lost my life playing it because I was just addicted to it completely! BioShock is amazing and I'm waiting for BioShock 2. I'm also waiting for Gran Turismo 5 to come out - that is going to be really good.
You mentioned Prototype taking over your life - does gaming seriously get in the way for you?
If you let it, it will. Fortunately this year has been a bit of a quiet year for me so I had some time to play a little bit, but ideally I wouldn't be buying new games when I'm in an important championship decision time because I'd probably lose a bit of focus. [laughs]
And are those championship decisions possibly going to be happening in F1 next year?
Certainly hope so. [knowing grin]
Nothing you can say about that then?
We're negotiating, it's getting closer and closer, but Formula 1 is as you know in a complicated moment, quite a few things going on, the driver's market is really going up in the air, so I have to push hard to make sure no-one falls into my spot.
Do you anticipate going straight in and taking it by storm like Lewis Hamilton?
It is very difficult to come into Lewis's situation where he was in a championship-winning car in his first year, and have been really well prepared. He's done a really good job obviously, Lewis is an outstanding talent, but I think more realistically with the teams I[m negotiating with, I'll be more happy if I can score points regularly.
Would you have loved to have been driving next to Michael Schumacher, had he come back and stayed?
I would definitely. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the pleasure.
I don't suppose you'd like to give people your PlayStation Network ID?
I think it'd get a bit... err... crazy. And I don't play online much because I'm not playing games a lot. I played Gran Turismo 5 Prologue a few times and I got a lot of abuse from other people, saying bad things because I was pushing them off the track. It's just fair racing, you know? Rubbing is racing! Although having said that, people can follow me on Twitter.
I guess in Need For Speed you'd be an aggressive driver!
I would indeed! [grins]
Not so much with F1?
Thanks Bruno, good luck with your career!