Bruno Senna had a few scares in the last few weeks as Campos was restructured as Hispania, but despite briefly fearing he was about to lose his Formula 1 seat, the team was saved and he will make his grand prix debut this weekend. Senna offered his thoughts on the task ahead and the last few nervous months as the Brazilian met reporters in the Bahrain paddock today.
Q. Now you're here and it's all happening, what are the emotions?
Bruno Senna: It's a great feeling. I traveled to Bahrain on Monday – then you get the feeling that it is actually starting to happen. Before that, I was careful about how much I expected, how much I believed because I knew that it wasn't going to be super easy.
So, it's quite a nice feeling to be here, in this paddock right now, and I hope we can get everything together ready for the race weekend and working a little bit on the good side because everything we have been working on and seeing and hearing has been on the business side and the political side and not on the sporting side, which is the one I really like.
Q. Were there any moments in the last few weeks where you thought the team wasn't going to happen?
BS: Yes, absolutely, just before Colin [Kolles] took the team over, I was very low on expectation that the team was going to happen because we had spent so much time trying to be sold, trying to be bailed and this and that. And they did a really good job considering the timetable they had. The team, Colin and everyone who came in and everybody who was there, worked 24/8 – they made an extra day in the week to manage to get the car here. And they are still going flat-out, so the hard times are not over.
Q. So when did you get the final call or e-mail that said it's happening, you're there, it's 100 percent for Bahrain?
BS: We only knew we were going to Bahrain on Saturday when the car was loaded with half an hour to spare, so I guess we never got that phone call. So our tickets were booked last week and hotels were booked, so it was all last-minute and only really came together last week.
Q. Are you confident the budget is there to go through the whole season?
BS: Well, we're working on that as well. I think since the start of last year, when we signed a deal, we were chasing after sponsors and for one reason or another it didn't happen. Now, the team is there so the sponsors are much more confident, and we have been able to raise some sponsorship, so now we have to keep on working. We believe that the team has also more funding to come from investors. So we're able to start the season in this way, and how we are going to continue in terms of development we will have to wait and see because it does cost money and not a little.
Q. What sort of preparations have you been able to do?
BS: I had a lot of free time to go fitness training so I'm very fit but not obviously fit in a racecar. So I was able to go karting a few days ago and I got all my muscles sore and back into shape again, and that's better than going to the gym or on the bike, and my neck machine. I have a neck machine from Technogym and it works my neck very hard, so in terms of fitness it's all good. I posted on Twitter my video on the bike, so I had to do some multi-tasking as well – everything I could do I did in terms of preparation, but the real preparation is only in a racecar and that is coming in the next few days.
Q. What sort of weekend are you expecting? The car's not had a shakedown, just getting laps will be a big achievement.
BS: I think the plan is now on Friday to go out, do a shakedown, do an installation lap, come back in, see if nothing's catching on fire, see if there are no leaks, send the other car, and do these things a few times – check the electronics. So for sure the first one and a half hours will be quite calm – we'll be just doing small runs, checking everything. Then we have to do all the things the other teams did in many days in just a few hours, which has been the case anyway.
Q. What do you say to other drivers that say this guy has had it easy because his name is Senna?
BS: I heard it in the beginning but I think as I went through the different championships the drivers did respect me. I think that when you grow up a little bit people respect you a bit more. So I had the respect from the drivers, and tried to give as much respect as I could.
Q: When you said before that you are treating this weekend a bit like a testing session, what do you say to other drivers worried that you are going to be like a mobile chicane?
BS: I can't worry about that because the odds are that we are going to be slower than the pace of the guys in front, which is pretty certain, but we need to do what we can do. We can't just be worried about what other people are thinking about, considering that these are the conditions we are presented with. And I think that just being here is a victory for us, so we are going to do the best we can. For sure, if we have problems, if we cause problems, it's not going to be on purpose, so it's the conditions that we have to deal with. I don't think we are going to be the only team off the pace, anyway.
Q. What does it mean in terms of safety, because obviously it's a safety consideration when you have a car that's six or seven seconds slower than another one?
BS: This is not too hard to deal with. I mean, I've been racing in the Le Mans Series with cars that are two seconds to 20 seconds a lap quicker. It's perfectly possible to be with traffic if you are in a faster car. The only thing you need is for the drivers all to respect each other and for sure this will come up in the drivers' briefing tomorrow and we will have to just discuss it. It's not a problem,
Q. You think that all the other drivers are OK with it?
BS: I don't think they are OK, I'm pretty sure the drivers in the faster cars are going to be pissed off when they see a driver with a slower time in front of them. People have to remember that they might not always be in the position they are now. They might sometimes not be overtaking, they might be being overtaken, so as I said it's a question of respect and of people giving way to each other.
Q. A couple of guys at Lotus have won a race; the guy who was on pole here last year...
BS: Precisely. Exactly, it's how it goes. It goes up and down and as I said, we just need to look in our mirrors a bit more.
Q. Do you think you'll enjoy this weekend?
BS: I am enjoying it already! It's the start of a dream come true for me. I have had a pretty tough year so far, starting from the end of 2008 all the way to this year, where things have gotten there only to be taken away.
It was starting to go that way this year, and it was hard to accept because it's one thing when you do something wrong and things go wrong – if I am not quick enough, if I make a mistake on the track – I lost my chance. It's another thing when everything is outside your control and it veers off in a direction that you just can't recover. I'm very glad to be here and very thankful to be here.