Left without a drive at the beginning of the year after potential opportunities in Formula 1 and the DTM fell through, Bruno Senna – nephew of multiple F1 champion Ayrton Senna – secured a ride in the Le Mans Series with ORECA. He makes his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend, sharing the No. 10 car with 1998 Le Mans winner Stephane Ortelli and former F1 driver Tiago Monteiro.Q. Bruno, how are you feeling as the race approaches?BS:
It's my first time at Le Mans so obviously I'm not the most experienced driver here. I've not done much endurance racing – just two six-hour races so far. But still, I feel that the team has given me great support. I've used the experience of the team and of my team-mates to learn as much as I can about the circuit before the race.
We've been going through maps and telemetry and then yesterday I had a bit of a taster about how quick the circuit can be, especially when the conditions are difficult. Our objectives as a team are very clear, we're going to push on and try to get both cars to the finish. The team has both the spirit and the performance to do that – and if we do, it will be a victory for us.Q. What was your first experience of the track like?BS:
Clearly, yesterday wasn't the best day to do a track recognition. It was a bit of a scary feeling, especially at first when the circuit was dry but with many wet patches. It's very easy to make a mistake here because it's such a long circuit. But I think that today I'll have a great experience because the circuit is drier, and I'll be able to work at setting the car up.
Night on the first day of practice was wet, but I enjoyed it – if it rains harder then it might be more difficult. But when the conditions are stable it's definitely very enjoyable.Q. Does the Le Mans 24 Hours hold a special appeal for you?BS:
This kind of racing has always appealed to me. I can remember the Mazdas – they made an incredible noise. Seeing night racing was fascinating. Actually racing at night becomes very difficult with all the traffic. And the nature of a circuit like this means that the surface is not even, so you can find puddles – and it changes every lap. It's a unique challenge.Q. Sports car racing is a very different discipline to single-seater racing; you have to work co-operatively with your teammates rather than fighting with them. You've got a grand prix winner and a Le Mans winner in your team – are they helping you to get the most out of yourself and the car?BS:
Yes. Everybody here works with a great team spirit. It's very different from everything I've done before in that way. It was very hard for me in the beginning to understand this spirit because I'm essentially a sprint driver and I fight with my teammates and always try to beat them. Here you have to collaborate for the team to go well.
It's a very different philosophy of racing and I'm having to learn it. For me it's a great advantage to have such experienced teammates and I'm trying to absorb everything they can teach me. That is going to be the key to having a faultless or very good race.Q. ORECA is a very experienced team but French is its first language. Is this a problem for you?BS:
I don't speak French very well. I can understand it quite well, but I still can't put many phrases together because it's not very familiar to me. I'm learning it and the team environment is great – they've accepted me and I get along with them. It's my first non-English team and it's been a great experience.Q. Do you feel regret about not getting a seat at Brawn GP this year?BS:
I feel proud for them because they've been the same group of people for many years and they're having the performance and results they deserve. They've always been very professional – they just didn't have the right package. I would have loved to be there and it's very easy to say that if I was there I would be fighting for wins with Jenson, but things are not exactly like this. For sure I would be having good results, but having to learn with very little testing.Q. Are you still actively seeking an F1 seat?BS:
We're talking to a few teams but right now nobody knows exactly what's going to happen. It's a question of talking to people and seeing how things transpire.Q. You have just three Le Mans Series races left this year, so in theory you could be available if an F1 seat fell vacant. Would you go for that opportunity?BS:
It would have to be a really good opportunity because F1 is extremely competitive and there is no testing. So it is a question of analyzing the risk: if the team had a great simulator then maybe, but if getting in the car on a Friday was my first experience then I think it's a bad idea.Q. So you would prefer to wait until 2010?BS:
The preference is that, yes.