Bruno Senna says he can finally enjoy being a Formula 1 driver now, after admitting the uncertainty about his future that clouded the last few weeks had been hard to accept.
The Brazilian, the nephew of three-time World Champion Ayrton, secured a deal with Campos Meta at the end of last year – but his place was thrown into doubt as the outfit faced financial difficulties before its recent rescue and renaming as HRT. Although he only knew in the last few days that he would definitely be staying at the team, Senna says he has managed to put all the winter worries behind him to focus on his career as a grand prix driver.
"I am enjoying it already," said Senna, during a break in his preparations at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on Wednesday. "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 – [like] 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."
Senna came close to a deal with Honda at the end of 2008, before the company's withdrawal from Formula 1 and its eventual takeover by Ross Brawn led the team to prefer to stick with the experienced Rubens Barrichello.
After that disappointment, Senna confessed there were times when he feared history would repeat itself and he would lose his second chance in F1.
Asked if there had been times over the winter when he felt his F1 chance wasn't going to happen, he said,"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."
He added: "We only knew we were going to Bahrain on Saturday when the car was loaded with half an hour to spare. So our tickets were booked last week and hotels were booked, so it was all last-minute and only really came together last week."
Senna is under no illusion that he faces a difficult task in Bahrain this weekend, with HRT's Dallara-built car having not yet turned a wheel. But he is ready for the challenge ahead – and far from worried about the extra pressure that comes from bringing the Senna name back to F1.
"I feel pretty good, actually. I don't mind it at all," he said about the interest caused by his surname. "I always had huge weight, huge pressure since the beginning. At my first race in Formula BMW I had raced nothing before and I had the TV crew from the biggest TV [channel] in Brazil around me all the time and people expecting.
"You know, when I tested the car for the first time at Snetterton in 2004 there were people there saying to me, 'It's like this', it's always been like this, so I have learned how to deal with it. And now it's much easier because I have experience."
Full Q & A with Bruno Senna